What Does a Heat Pump Cost?
Heat pumps are a relatively new method of heating and cooling that have gained a great deal of popularity in recent years. This is in no small part due to their energy efficiency. That is, their ability to use significantly less power to achieve the same result as a less technologically advanced system. This, of course, directly translates to cost savings for the owner of the heat pump, but are these newfangled devices really all they are cracked up to be? After the up-front cost of the device itself and its installation, will they really save you money? What does a heat pump cost to run?
In this article, we’ll help you figure out if installing a heat pump is the right financial choice for your home or business.
What Is a Heat Pump?
Traditional methods of heating work by utilizing some sort of combustible fuel source. For example, a furnace might be used to burn propane, which in turn heats the air around it. This heated air is then pumped through a series of ducts by a large, powerful fan.
This is known as forced-air heating, and it’s certainly effective, having been the preferred method of heating buildings for many, many years. However, this traditional method of heating is also plagued with inefficiencies. Heat energy is lost during the transfer of the heat to the air and through the ducts and in a number of other ways as well.
Enter the heat pump, a method of home heating and cooling (it does both) that avoids the inefficiencies inherent in older HVAC technologies. This is because heat pumps don’t generate heat at all. Instead, they transfer it from one place to another. Most heat pumps just absorb thermal energy from the outside air, but some utilize water or geothermal energy instead.
The heat pump’s ability to transfer heat energy from place-to-place means that it can be used for both heating and cooling. Heat energy can be transferred from the outside of the home to the inside (for heating) or, conversely, from inside the home to the outside (for cooling).
How Does It Work?
Although they are considered extremely technologically advanced, the mechanism behind how heat pumps work is actually quite simple. It’s a system constructed from two parts: an outdoor unit, which is usually a condenser, and an indoor unit, which usually contains a heat exchanger.
The exact way these parts are set up isn’t the same in every heat pump, but they all operate by the same principle: through the use of a refrigerant coil, similar to the one in a refrigerator or a traditional air conditioner. This coil contains a pressurized refrigerant chemical with a low boiling point. As warm air circulates over the refrigerant coil, the liquid begins to vaporize. This has the effect of drawing the heat energy out of the air, cooling the air down while also heating up the refrigerant. The refrigerant is then forced through the coil and the heat energy is released, venting directly into the home without the need for an expansive and inefficient system of ducts.
When it’s used as an air conditioner, the heat pump works in much the same way, except in reverse: The warm air inside of the home is cooled down, and that air is then vented back into the room, bringing it down to a comfortable temperature. At the same time, the system safely dissipates the excess heat energy outside the home.
How Do Heat Pumps Save You Money?
As we’ve mentioned, heat pumps are a good deal more efficient than other methods of heating and cooling, partly due to the fact that they are less complex. Most buildings utilize ducts to circulate air that has been heated or cooled, but these ducts are prone to developing leaks or becoming clogged with dust and dirt. In either case, a lot of valuable energy will be lost, and your energy bill will go up. Bypassing the need for ductwork is one of the ways that heat pumps can save you money.
Another way that they save money is by avoiding the need for a costly fuel source. Traditional heating methods require the use of a furnace, which burns some sort of combustible fuel to generate heat. Some of these fuels are more expensive than others, but all of them cost something. Because heat pumps use energy that is already present in the environment, and do not need to generate it, they do not require any sort of fuel source. All they require is some electricity to operate their systems.
Overall, running a heat pump can save you between 30 and 40 percent a year on your heating costs: a very significant reduction in your energy bill.
So, Is It a Worthy Investment?
Saving hundreds of dollars a year is, of course, an exciting prospect, but is it worth it overall? What does a heat pump cost, and will your cost savings offset that expense? Generally, the answer is yes, although it does depend somewhat on your home and the climate where you live. The cost of a heat pump—with installation—is, on average, around $6,000. This number can fluctuate greatly depending on your location, with a low of around $4,000 and a high of around $7,000. The number can be higher still if you purchase a particularly advanced style of heat pump, such as a geothermal unit. These models can be as high as $12,000 or more.
When you compare these up-front costs to your overall savings, however, your heat pump is likely to pay for itself over the course of a few years. This does depend somewhat upon the climate in your area. Heat pumps tend to struggle in extremely cold climates, such as the American Midwest. If the temperature regularly drops below zero, you may be better off with a propane furnace or similar heating system.
If you live in a more moderate climate, however, a heat pump may be your best bet: not only because it will save you money on energy costs, but because it adds value to your home as well. More eco-friendly homes tend to be more valuable to prospective buyers so you may be able to earn more when you sell your home if it already has a fully installed heat pump.
If You Want a Heat Pump for Your Home or Business
If you’ve decided that a heat pump might be a worthwhile investment for your home or business, contact the experts at Entek. With over 75 years in the HVAC business, Entek has always been at the forefront of new heating and cooling technologies, and heat pumps are no exception. We can install a heat pump for you, as well as maintain it so that your investment continues to pay off for you for decades to come.