fbpx

Can Heat Pumps be Used in Northern Climates?

If you’re looking for a new HVAC system, odds are you’ve heard about the efficient, cost-effective and eco-friendly features of heat pumps. These systems have been popular in warm climates for many years. But since they take heat from the outdoor air and transfer it inside, conventional wisdom indicates that installing them in cold climates is not sensible. This might have you asking if a heat pump is a good choice for your home in the Northern U.S. or Canada.

Before going more in-depth, rest assured that modern, cold-weather heat pumps are suitable for northern climates. Over the last decade, the usage of heat pump technology has soared in Northern European countries such as Norway and Sweden. With average January temperatures sitting around 20 degrees F, homeowners in these communities obviously need powerful heating options. Those who have installed cold-climate heat pumps have been delighted to discover that they meet their needs perfectly.

What Makes Cold-Climate Heat Pumps Successful at Low Temperatures?

Heat pump technology was previously too weak for temperate climates. As the temperature dropped below freezing, these systems were simply unable to capture enough heat to successfully warm a house. But this is no longer the case. Here are the special features found in cold-climate heat pumps that allow them to work efficiently at temperatures colder than 0 degrees F.

    • Cold-weather coolants have a lower boiling point versus traditional heat pump refrigerants, enabling them to pull more heat energy from cold air.
    • Multi-stage compressors function at lower speeds in mild weather and increase to higher speeds in extreme cold. This improves efficiency in dynamic weather conditions and keeps the indoor temperature more consistent.
    • Variable-speed fans use multi-stage compressors to deliver heated air at the proper rate.
    • The improved coil design used in most modern heat pumps features grooved copper tubing with a bigger surface area, allowing the unit to exchange heat more efficiently.
    • Flash injection creates a shortcut in the refrigerant loop to increase cold-weather heating performance. Efficiency drops a bit in this mode, but it’s still much better than counting on a backup electric resistance heater.
    • Improved motors consume less electricity to boost energy savings.
    • Other engineering optimizations like reduced ambient flow rates, greater compressor capacity and improved compression cycle configurations further lower energy consumption in freezing winter weather.

Traditional Heating Systems vs. Heat Pumps in Colder Climates

Heat pump efficiency is determined by its heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF), which demonstrates the total heating output over the heating season divided by the energy consumed during that period. The higher the HSPF, the better the efficiency.

Starting in 2023, the nationwide minimum efficiency rating for heat pumps will be 8.8 HSPF. The majority of cold-climate heat pumps come with ratings of 10 HSPF or higher, enabling them to operate at up to 400% efficiency in moderate weather. In other words, they move four times more energy than they use in the process.

Performance dips as the temperature drops, but various models are still around 100% efficient in sub-freezing conditions. Compare this to brand-new, high-efficiency furnaces, which top out at about 98% efficiency.

In terms of actual savings, results can vary. The biggest savers are likely to be people who heat with delivered fuels including propane and oil, as well as those who use electric furnaces or electric baseboard heaters.

That being said, heating with natural gas still is usually less expensive than running a heat pump. The cost variation is based on how severe the winter is, the utility costs in your area, whether your equipment was installed correctly and whether you use solar panels to offset electricity costs.

Other Factors to Consider

If you’re looking at transitioning from a traditional furnace, boiler or electric heater to a cold-climate heat pump, consider these other factors:

    • Design and installation: Cold-weather heat pumps are engineered for efficiency, but they must be sized, designed and installed precisely to perform at their best. Factors like home insulation levels and the placement of the outdoor unit can also affect system performance.
    • Tax credits: You can save on heat pump installation costs with energy tax credits from the United States government. The tax credit amount for qualifying installations is $300 until the end of 2022.
    • Solar panels: Heat pumps are powered by electricity, so they work well with solar panels. This combo can reduce your energy bills even further.

Start Saving with a Cold-Climate Heat Pump

Whether you’re replacing a current HVAC system or exploring options for a new property, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help you make a cost-effective decision. We’ll review your home comfort needs, go over your budget and suggest the best equipment, which might be a cold-climate heat pump or similar product. To ask questions or schedule a heat pump installation estimate, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today.

Savings For You

See All Offers Here >
Offer

$50 OFF ANY REPAIR

  • Save $50 on a Paid Service
  • Written 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Plus, ask how to save an additional 15% and waive your trip charge!
print
Offer

FREE STANDARD DUCT CLEANING WITH THE PURCHASE OF COMPLETE SYSTEM

  • Written 100% Expert Service Guarantee
print

© 2024 Service Experts, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, and the Service Experts logo and design are registered trademarks of Service Experts LLC and used under license by SE Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved. *Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions.

Chat with a Service Experts Professional