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Is a Heat Pump in the Pacific Northwest a Good Option?

If you’re in the market for a new home HVAC system, you’ve most likely come across information on heat pumps. Using the same technology found in refrigerators, a heat pump can either heat or cool a room by transferring heat from one space to another, such as outdoors in or vice versa. While there’s a plethora of information out there about the various models and types of heat pumps, you may not be finding what you want to know most: whether or not a heat pump is the right choice for you.

Your HVAC needs will vary depending on your home’s construction, your personal preferences, and a myriad of other unique factors. Plenty of things can tick the thermostat up or down in a home, but one of the most relevant of these factors is your climate. Here in the Pacific Northwest, our temperate environment gives you plenty of options when it comes to home heating and cooling solutions. How does a heat pump stack up to the competition, though? If you’re scratching your head, unsure of what to make of it, never fear! As your local HVAC specialist, Entek is here to help you parse through the details and figure out if you should be using a heat pump in the Pacific Northwest.



Usable Throughout the Year

One of the major upsides of using a heat pump in the Pacific Northwest is having the flexibility to maintain a consistent temperature as the seasons change. Since a heat pump functions by drawing heat from one area to another, it can both heat and cool your home, depending on what you need at a given moment.

Summer heatwave making it impossible to get anything done? Set the heat pump to transfer that heat outside, cooling your indoor environment and giving you a much-needed respite from the heat. Is the winter chill setting in because the sun is only showing up for a half-day of work? A heat pump can’t stop the sun from setting at four in the afternoon, but it can keep your home toasty and help you shake off some of the bitter cold. Since the climate is so mild, with extreme temperatures only really hitting for a few weeks a year, a heat pump might be all you need in the Pacific Northwest.

Go Green and Reduce Energy Usage

With all the natural splendor that surrounds us, it’s easy to see why so many Pacific Northwesterners are so environmentally minded. Whether it’s using reusable bags at the grocery store or employing elaborate composting systems, we have a culture dedicated to preserving the world around us. If you’re eco-minded, you probably find yourself looking for lots of little ways to reduce your impact. You’re not alone! In fact, that’s why so many people use a heat pump in the Pacific Northwest. Heat pumps are incredibly energy-efficient, using a fraction of the energy of a more traditional furnace or air conditioner to achieve the same effect.

When you take the time to think about it, it makes sense. With older furnaces or air conditioners, you have to expend energy in order to generate the climate you like. That means burning through electricity, natural gas, wood, or oil just to generate the temperature you want. Even after all that, you still need to expend more energy to circulate it. With a heat pump, you’re simply gathering and transferring already existing heat from one space to another. By skipping the generation process, you can minimize the energy you need to use to maintain your indoor climate.

Cutting down on your energy usage doesn’t just benefit the environment, either. The less you need to draw on utilities to maintain your climate, the less money you’ll end up paying on your bill. While we’re sure the environmental benefit is enough for many people in the Pacific Northwest, saving money is certainly a nice cherry on top.


Units Can be Expensive

While the technology behind heat pumps has existed for some time, it’s only recent innovations that have made them a competitive option in the HVAC field. Since many of the models on the market are using cutting-edge technology, they can come with a hefty price tag. It’s worth keeping the cost in mind when shopping around, but don’t forget about the potential financial benefits that come along with a heat pump.

Firstly, the money you save on your energy bill can add up to a pretty large sum. Secondly, you may be able to subsidize the cost with a green energy rebate. You’ll want to check with your local government or energy provider to see what options may be offered, but many offer incentives to install a heat pump throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Extreme Temperatures Present a Problem

The biggest downside to using a heat pump in the Pacific Northwest is their difficulties mitigating extreme weather. As previously stated, the climate of the region is mild enough to allow a heat pump to get the job done without much trouble. Once you hit that deep freeze somewhere in the bleak expanse of January, though, you may have a problem.

When the outdoor temperature drops below 40 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, your heat pump just has less heat available to draw into your home. This doesn’t mean it will stop working completely. It will just have to work harder and harder to keep up with the harsher climate. Inevitably, this forces the heat pump to sacrifice its efficiency to continue to do its job. Luckily, the Pacific Northwest winter rarely gets that cold for very long, so it’s not a long-term concern.

That being said, some homeowners find it worthwhile to keep a supplemental heating solution for when the winter gets particularly icy. Sometimes it’s as easy as just keeping an existing gas furnace in addition to the heat pump. Maybe your home has a fireplace you can light on the coldest days. It might be easier to install electric heaters in order to pick up the slack. Whatever you decide to do, it’s worth keeping the limitations of a heat pump in mind.

Deciding whether to install a heat pump can seem daunting, but we’re here to help. Whether you’re trying to assess the quality of your current system or trying to decide between different models, Entek’s expertise is at your disposal.

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