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NP Environmental Blog

Are Heat Pumps Viable in the Winter?

This is such a great question, and it’s one that we get asked all the time. As new customers get acquainted with heat pump technology (thanks to legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act and other cost-saving programs), almost everyone does a quick online search to find out if a heat pump can work well during the winter.

Especially in our area where heating in Utica, NY is a huge priority during our frigid winters, some folks just opt for heating systems that run on fossil fuels because they don’t think a heat pump can handle the cold.

Not only is this further from the truth than it’s ever been, but we can prove to you right now that new heat pumps have the potential to be better for your home than a conventional furnace system–even when temperatures drop below freezing.

The Heat Pump Process

While it’s true that heat pumps have a harder time transferring heat during the winter season, this puts it a little too simply. Heat pumps transfer heat from one location to another. For air source heat pumps, this means transferring heat from the outside air to your home’s interior air. With a ground source heat pump, this transfer comes from beneath the ground where temperatures remain more constant throughout the year.

When temperatures get colder, your heat pump has to use more energy and work harder to transfer heat–this is true. But here’s the thing, moving heat is a much more energy-efficient process than creating heat, like what a conventional furnace or boiler would do. In most cases, it’s almost 300% more efficient, which makes a heat pump competitive.

So, even though your heat pump might work extra hard on the coldest days of the year, it will still run at competitive costs compared to a furnace or a boiler. And as costs become comparable, you’ll still be using electricity which is a lot more eco-friendly than gas or oil.

Air Source Vs. Ground Source

It’s important to discuss the efficiency of air source vs. ground source heat pumps. During the winter, an air source heat pump is going to have more trouble heating your home, meaning you’ll be paying more in electricity costs. They’re cheaper to install but run up your bills.

A ground source heat pump has more access to heat which means they can run more efficiently. Digging those pipes can cost more initially, but you’ll save on bills down the line.

Preparing for the Future

Now, here’s something to consider if you’re still split between owning a heat pump or a conventional heater for the next cold winter. Heat pumps run via electricity, which you can have a huge impact on. Natural gas and oil infrastructure is only going to get less efficient and more expensive over time, while electrical infrastructure is getting more stable and supported.

Think about how much you could save if you eventually invest in solar panels for your property. Those could help power your heat pumps and give you, essentially, free heat during the coldest time of the year. That sounds like a bargain to us.

Count on NP Environmental for your heat pump needs in Utica and the surrounding areas.

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