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Pros and Cons of an Electric Heat Pump

Modern technology has given us several options for heating and cooling our homes, and while gas furnaces remain the most popular, many homeowners are opting to make the switch to an electric heat pump. This type of heating system has a number of advantages, though it’s not without its limitations. Before making your final choice as to how you will heat and cool your home, we recommend taking a look at the pros and cons of an electric heat pump.

What Is an Electric Heat Pump?

Pros and Cons of an Electric Heat Pump

Despite the name, electric heat pumps are not used for simply heating the home. They can be used for cooling during the summer as well. It’s function, simply put, is to move heat: either to bring it inside your home when it’s cold or to move heat outside when it’s hot. An electric heat pump is a simple, singular system that can do this job while saving you energy costs.

While many electric heaters convert the electricity that powers them directly into heat, an electric heat pump doesn’t work in this way. Instead, it draws in heat from the air, or from the ground around your home, and uses that to warm your home. And it cools by pulling the warm air out of your home, rather than using energy to cool air from outside.

The Pros and Cons

Electric heat pumps are a unique way to heat and cool your home, and they have a number of advantages to them. However, there are a few limitations and downsides you should be aware of as well. We’ve listed a few of them below.

Pro: An Electric Heat Pump Is One of the Most Energy Efficient Ways to Heat or Cool Your Home

Since more traditional heaters, whether they’re gas or electric, work by converting their power source directly into heat, they are famously inefficient. A lot of that electricity or gas is simply lost as waste, driving your energy bills up. One of the key advantages to an electric heat pump is the efficiency with which it operates; it will keep your home comfortable while keeping your energy bills down.

Con: The Initial Installation Can Be Expensive

While having an electric heat pump is likely to save you on energy costs in the long run, they’re not particularly cheap to install. Having this type of system installed in your home should be considered an investment, and if you already have a gas furnace or other type of heating system in place, you may be put off by the costs.

Part of these expenses can be offset by finding an HVAC company like Entek that will work to save you money on installation; however, installing an electric heat pump can still be a pricey choice.

Pro: The Air Quality Is Better with an Electric Heat Pump

During the extreme weather of the summer and winter, you might have your heater or air conditioner working double-time. But you may also need to have a humidifier working nonstop to combat the dry air. Similarly, during the summer, you may need a dehumidifier to remove the excess moisture from the air in your home. Both too much and too little humidity can make your home an uncomfortable place.

One of the biggest advantages of an electric heat pump is humidity control; during the summer, your heat pump will dehumidify the air without trouble. Similarly, the heat pump doesn’t dry out the air when heating in the way that traditional gas heaters do. You probably won’t need to use a humidifier during the wintertime.

Con: Heat Pumps Tend To Be Less Efficient in Extreme Weather

Because your heat pump is using ambient heat from the air and the ground to heat your home, it may not be as efficient during extreme cold snaps, when there is little extra heat to be found. Your electric heat pump may end up working overtime if it’s extremely cold outside, as it struggles to find the necessary heat to keep your home comfortable.

However, this is only truly a con during extreme conditions; if you live in a more moderate climate, it may not affect you. If, however, you live in a part of the country where the winters get extremely cold—think a place like Chicago or Minnesota—then you may need a backup system to take over the heating of your house when the heat pump cannot.

Pro: Electric Heat Pumps Are Quiet

Some heating systems can be extremely loud, and while they’ll keep your home appropriately warm or cool, they’ll disrupt your comfort in other ways. This is not an issue with an electric heat pump; it operates efficiently and quietly.

Con: Electric Heat Pumps Require More Maintenance

Electric heat pumps do require more care and maintenance to keep them operating at maximum efficiency. Partially, this is due to the fact that electric heat pumps have more working mechanical parts than other systems. Gas furnaces require comparatively little maintenance, although this is partly because they’re used significantly less often (only a few months out of the year).

If you opt to have an electric heat pump installed, you’ll need a trustworthy company to perform maintenance for you.

Pro: Electric Heat Pumps Are Safer Than Gas

Gas furnaces in the home come with an inherent safety concern; you’ll always have to be aware of the possibility of a gas leak or even a fire or explosion that could occur. As they do not make use of natural gas, electric heat pumps do not have this issue and are generally safer in your home than gas furnaces.

Con: Electric Heat Pumps Are Larger Than Other Systems

Gas furnaces generally only have one relatively small indoor component to heat your home; an electric heat pump needs to have both an indoor and outdoor component.

When considering the pros and cons of an electric heat pump, the size is a major consideration for many people. However, you must also consider that an electric heat pump will take the place of not only your gas furnace, but your air conditioner as well.

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