You’ve just had your propane-fueled furnace serviced and paid the expensive bill. It’s getting on in years, so you’re seriously considering upgrading.
A few of your neighbors have recently installed heat pumps. Most had doubts about whether buying a heat pump was worth it, but their feedback has been positive. They are all claiming substantial savings on their energy bills and wishing they’d done it sooner.
Can you save money using an air-to-air heat pump? Are the savings real, or is it just hype?
The bottom line - is it worth the investment?
There are many things to consider before purchasing a heat pump. Let’s have a look at some facts and figures and see what they tell us.
Well, if your energy costs are rising, it’s often an indication your current system is not running as efficiently as it should. Age is a consideration; the older the furnace is, the less efficient it will be.
Of course, utilities also keep nudging their prices up, which only adds to your pain. Perhaps it’s time to look at replacing or supplementing your furnace with a heat pump and take advantage of the real savings they can deliver you?
The average furnace will last between 10 and 20 years. So when you decide to replace yours, it can be done at any time of the year, but it’s easier in warmer weather than in the depths of winter when all the HVAC guys are run off their feet fixing broken heaters.
Most of us organize a furnace service in the Fall (or should do!). That way, if there are any issues, they can be repaired before winter sets in for real. It’s not something to even think about – waking up on a freezing December morning with no heating.
Replacing your current furnace with new air-to-air heat pump system can save you a lot of money, give you easier, cheaper maintenance and lower energy bills – immediately. Plus, your home will be more comfortable all year round and your life less stressful.
What’s not to like about that combination?
Like most things in life, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and the first step should be to find a local, trusted HVAC (Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning) contractor. Ask your neighbors who they used, how they rated their experience, and would they recommend their contractor? It’s a good starting point.
Selecting a good HVAC supplier is as important as picking any professional; you need someone skilled, qualified, and reliable. You need them to be honest and trustworthy. Someone who will deliver what you need on time and back it up with a warranty and support if things go wrong.
Your chosen HVAC contractor’s first step will be to evaluate your home, examining the quality of your insulation, the seals on your windows and doors, and any other issues which could potentially reduce the efficiency of your new air to air heat pump. There’s little point paying hard cash to pull warm air in from outside to heat your home if it’s escaping faster than you produce it.
The correct size of a heat pump for your property and the job you want it to do is also a vital consideration. If it’s too small, it will have to work harder and will cost more to run. Plus, it won’t last as long if it’s working flat out all the time. Equally, if you choose a unit that’s too big, it will cost you more to buy, install, and run, so your savings will be reduced.
The cost to buy and install a heat pump can vary, which is why it’s essential to work with an expert from the outset.
The ability of a modern heat pump to pull heat from very cold air in the winter efficiently and cheaply is hard to believe, but it’s true. Even in places where winter temperatures can be extremely low, modern Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pumps (ccASHP), will still operate efficiently at -110.
In some areas, owners maintain their furnace as a backup if the temperature drops unseasonably low, but modern heat pumps are incredibly efficient, even in deep winter. Groundbreaking advances in heat pump design have created a viable heating choice, even in parts of the country where winter temperatures regularly hit minus levels. Heat pumps are now being installed successfully everywhere in the country, no matter what the local climate is.
The savings on running costs are impressive with air to air heat pumps. On average, they can generate 3 kilowatts of heat per 1 kilowatt of electricity consumed, which is impressive.
Compare that with a standard electric baseboard heater where 1 kilowatt of power consumed delivers 1 kilowatt of heating – the math is simple. The heat pump offers a saving in power consumption of 66%, which is substantial.
The savings over a propane-fueled system are also impressive. By switching to a heat pump, you can save around $1462 each year and “only” $255 if replacing an oil-powered heater.
Annual $ Savings With a ccASHP [Source]
The savings will be lower, of course, if you keep your furnace as a backup in case of a very severe winter. However, your savings are immediate; as soon as the heat pump is commissioned, you start to save cash.
Because your heat pump also delivers cooling, you can enjoy year-round comfort with consistent temperatures. The overall result is a better quality of life for you and your family as well as real savings in cash.
According to the same Source, if you replace an AC with the heat pump, you could save up to $200 every year.
Check out your local state resources for possible grants and incentives. See energy.gov for available rebates and note that some utilities are also offering financial incentives and loans to help encourage swapping to heat pumps.
Every cent you can save increases the value of your investment.
When you are considering an air-source heat pump, check out the ENERGY STAR Ratings sticker - it has two important numbers you should look at:
In moderate climates, check the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating. It’s a measure of the air conditioner’s cooling capacity compared to the power it consumes. The higher the SEER grade, the greater the air conditioner’s efficiency when cooling your home. The result is it will cost less to run.
A heat pump’s heating efficiency rating is indicated by its HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor) rating. The level represents the total heat output of a heat pump compared to the amount of power it consumes.
If you live in an area where it’s colder in winter, try to select a heat pump which has a high HSPF rating as it will deliver the most efficient results when the temperature drops.
Once you’ve decided to go ahead, it’s a good idea to check out some reviews online on the make and model of the heat pump your contractor is suggesting, or check out our reviews found in the navigation menu. It’s always useful to get feedback from customers who have bought and lived with the equipment you are about to invest in.
You would do it with a hotel or resort, wouldn’t you? So why not a heat pump? Any issues raised that concern you, you can ask your contractor about, and he should be able to address them to your complete satisfaction.
The facts are clear; you will save money by installing an air to air heat pump over your aging furnace, there’s no doubt about that. Your investment will pay dividends for many years to come.
Now you are ready to place the order, and your HVAC contractor will have his team in and out quickly and efficiently and remember those savings start the second you switch off your old furnace and start enjoying the convenience of your new heat pump.
Within a short time, it will be a pleasure (or perhaps just less of a pain!), to open those utility bills, when they drop in your mailbox.