Newer heat pump technology can keep you comfortable for less

Many people feel the heat of high energy costs when weather turns chilly. Fortunately, air source heat pumps can warm your home without wearing down your wallet.

Hoosiers use a variety of heating fuels to keep them cozy in the fall and winter. Liquid propane, fuel oil, natural gas, and electricity can be found in our members’ homes. New technology can provide more energy-efficient ways to keep you warm while minimizing your energy costs. Some balk at air source heat pumps (which use electricity) because of concerns about how they perform in very cold temperatures. Yet air source heat pumps have become more efficient over the last few years, and can provide energy savings compared to other options to heat and cool your home.

Air source heat pumps contain a condenser, which circulates refrigerant, and an air handler that moves the conditioned air throughout your home. Air source heat pumps essentially pull heat from the air — in the summer the system pulls the warm air from your home and pumps it outside; in the winter, it pulls the heat from the air outside and pumps that heat into your home.

Typical heat pumps can lose their efficiency when the temperature drops near 20 degrees F. But newer Variable Speed Compressors are capable of efficiently heating a home well below 0 degrees F. As the air grows colder, the heat pump must work harder to pull heat from the outdoors. This is why air source heat pumps need a backup heat source. In an all-electric home, this may be electric resistance heat or auxiliary heat, which are coils that warm the air passing through the air handler. For those who have a hybrid heating system, liquid propane (or even natural gas) would be that backup heat source.

If your home uses liquid propane as a heat source, you may benefit from adding an air source heat pump. Energy efficient air source heat pumps, which have a minimum Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 16 and a Heating Season Performance Factor (HSPF) of 9, can provide long-term energy savings compared to solely using liquid propane or fuel oil as a heat source.

If your system is almost 15 years old, it may be time to plan for a replacement. Contact the energy advisor at your local electric cooperative if you have questions; your co-op may even have rebates available for energy efficient upgrades. Don’t be left out in the cold when your system gives out!