Heat pump technology has improved a lot over the past 10 to 20 years, and many members are looking to install a heat pump or upgrade their current system. Heat pumps can also cool your home during the summer months, which is an added value. Here are a few situations where you might use the different types of air-source heat pumps.
1. Ducted heat pump
If your home has a forced-air furnace, a centralized air-source heat pump can work well. A compressor outside your home that looks like an A/C unit is connected to your home’s existing duct system. Like your furnace, the temperature is controlled through one main thermostat. This is a solid solution if your system has quality ductwork that heats and cools every room evenly, which is rare.
Ductwork in most homes is not designed to heat or cool every room evenly. Long supply runs provide little air to some rooms, and it’s typical for some rooms to lack return air registers. Also, ductwork is often leaky, which creates comfort issues. If leaky ducts are located in unheated areas such as crawl spaces or attics, it will increase your heating and cooling costs. Poor ductwork will render any kind of central heating or cooling system much less effective. Some HVAC contractors can repair ductwork problems if the ductwork is accessible.
2. Mini-split heat pump
If your home does not have ductwork or the ductwork is poorly designed or leaky, a ductless mini-split heat pump might be your best bet. With a mini-split heat pump, tubes connected to the outside compressor carry refrigerant to one or more air handlers, which are mounted high on a wall to distribute air. Thermostats regulate each air handler, providing control of different zones in the home.
Ductless heat pumps are often used in combination with a central heating and cooling system. Ductless mini-splits are an excellent option if you don’t have central air ducts, your ducts are leaking, or you only want the new ductless heat pump to heat or cool part of the home.
3. Geothermal (or ground-source) heat pump
Several feet underground, the temperature remains constant year-round, typically between 45 degrees and 75 degrees F, depending on latitude. With a geothermal heat pump, heat is transferred into or out of the ground by pipes buried in a loop 10 feet underground or drilled up to 400 feet into the earth. The pipes carry water to a compressor, which uses a refrigerant to transfer the heat to or from your home’s ducts.
A geothermal heat pump system is extremely energy efficient since the earth’s temperature is warmer than the outside air in the winter and cooler than the outside air in the summer. But this efficiency comes with a high price tag, which is the initial cost to install the pipe loop or drill the hole for a vertical pipe.
If you’d like more information about heat pumps, call the co-op at 1-800-686-2357 and ask for your energy advisor, Peter Niagu We’ll be happy to help you with researching the best decision for you.