There are a lot of myths out there about heat pumps. One of the biggest myths we hear constantly is that heat pumps will stop working if the temperatures drop below freezing outdoors. If you have been questioning if your heat pump will hold up in the winter, the answer is yes; however, for efficient heating you will need to pair your heat pump with a backup heat source such as a furnace or electrical resistance coils. This might sound complicated, but it really is not and when you have professional HVAC installers setting up your system, you do not have to worry about a thing!
How Heat Pumps Work in the Cold
Heat pumps work by absorbing outdoor air and transferring it throughout your home. Because heat pumps use outdoor air, they work best in regions with mild temperatures; however, this does not mean that they stop working in cold temperatures. When temperatures drop below freezing, a heat pump loses efficiency, and another backup source of heat will need to be set up to supplement the pump.
The most common back up source is electric resistance coil heaters which work with heat pumps that use ducts. The coils are installed inside the ductwork and have 100% efficiency rating. Granted, this is less efficient than being able to run on just the heat pump, which is 300% efficient, it is much better than trying to use space heaters or other electrical devices to supplement the heat pump.
Another option for home heating is a dual system which combines a heat pump with a traditional gas furnace. With these systems, the heat pump is the primary source of heat when temperatures are above freezing, but as soon as temperatures drop, the furnace kicks in as backup. Dual systems are the most expensive option but are often the most practical for keeping warm temperatures consistent in your home over long winters. The higher upfront cost is usually nothing to worry about however because the energy savings homeowners get with a dual system will pay off the system within six years on average.
The last way to supplement your heat pump is to use electrical space heaters to heat rooms of your home. Space heaters are not energy-efficient, but some of them can warm a room quickly if there is good insulation and sealants on the doors and windows. Space heaters can often become a fire hazard when used or stored inappropriately unfortunately so homeowners need to take care when using them, especially overnight.
When it comes to heat pumps in cold climates, we recommend a dual system that can give you all the benefits of the heat pump’s energy-efficiency with the trust and dependability of a gas furnace.