Buy a Heat Pump

Before you buy a heat pump, understand how it functions.

A heat pump is basically an air conditioner that performs both the cooling and heating chores for a home. The Quick Tip explanation is that a heat pump moves heat from inside to outside for cooling, or from outside to inside for heating. Our Heat Pump page explains this process in more detail.

A heat pump can be an economical choice for conditioning your home. You must consider your climate before choosing a heat pump. Extreme winter climates and heat pumps are not necessarily a good match! However, if you live in an extreme climate, and you are determined to install a heat pump, those periods of frigid temps below 40*F can be overcome if your air handler is a dual-fuel unit. Dual fuel means, simply, that the air handling unit is equipped with a second source of heat. This second source of heat (gas or electric) takes over once the heat pump can no longer provide your heating efficiently.

If you reside in a mild climate, where temps seldom dip below 40*F, a heat pump can be an economical, dependable comfort system for your home.

Operating costs

You must also look at your utility costs. Historically, electricity is usually much more expensive than natural gas. But recent economic trends may have changed this fact in your area. Do the research for your area, before you commit. There are also the few areas of our country where electricity is now, and has always been, cheaper than natural gas.

Installation cost

Typically a heat pump is more expensive to install than a conventional air conditioner. This increased cost is due to equipment cost and your contractor's labor cost is increased, as well. Fewer contractors are heat pump capable, so expect to pay more for service also. When you choose your contractor, take this into consideration. Check his credentials carefully.

Life Expectancy

A conventional central air conditioner does not run year round. It gets to take a break 2 to 6 months of the year. If you invest in a heat pump, the unit will typically run 12 months out of the year. This will take it's toll on the equipment, and will need replacing sooner than a conventional AC unit. You can expect increased service costs for this same reason.

Size that heat pump

It is imperative that your heat pump be sized properly for your home. The same factors, which plague an air conditioner, can affect your comfort and the performance and longevity of your heat pump. If a unit is too large, the unit will cycle on and off often, decreasing efficiency and creating excess wear and tear on the components. A unit, which is too small, will run continuously and never achieve thermostat set-point.

To assure proper sizing, choose a contractor who will perform a Manual J calculation on your home. This heat loss/gain calculation is the only method to ensure the proper size will be installed in your home, if you buy a heat pump. Perfect-Home-Hvac-Design can perform this service for you.


The cooling function of a heat pump is rated by SEER. The heating efficiency of a heat pump is rated by HSPF. The higher the SEER and HSPF, the more efficient the unit, and less expensive to operate. Higher ratings also translate to higher installation costs to buy a heat pump, but higher efficiency units tend to be higher quality, therefore cost less in breakdowns.

Read more about Heat Pumps

The Pros and Cons about Heat Pumps

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