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Heat Pump Energy Efficiency Explained

air-conditioner-money-saverWhen you’re looking around for a new heating option for your house before winter arrives, one of the key bits of information you’ll want to know about a heater is its energy efficiency. Residential heating systems have higher efficiency than ever before, and the standards for a heater to receive the ENERGY STAR label have increased.

Simply purchasing a high-efficiency system is not a guarantee of savings. If the heater isn’t the right type or size for your house, the efficiency rating won’t matter. You need to have a Marlton, NJ, HVAC contractor take care of the installation as well as help guide you to the ideal system. However, it’s worthwhile to know the basics of efficiency ratings. In this post, we’ll look at the efficiency ratings of heat pumps, which are a bit tricky because they have two different ones.

HSPF and SEER

A heat pump operates as both a cooling and heating system. It operates like a conventional air conditioner that can change the direction it moves heat. It either moves heat from indoors to outdoors (cooling mode) or from outdoors to indoors (heating mode). A heat pump’s efficiency isn’t the same in the two modes, and therefore it has two different ratings. SEER is for cooling mode and is the same as the SEER rating for an air conditioner. HSPF is for heating mode and is heat pump-specific.

HSPF stands for heating seasonal performance factor. It is a ratio of heating output compared to the amount of electricity consumed: heating in BTUs to electricity in watt-hours. The measurement is done over a full heating season under different conditions, rather than a single test. The higher the HSPF number, the more efficient the unit at changing electricity into heating energy over the season.

The current requirements for an air-source heat pump to receive the ENERGY STAR label is 8.5 HSPF or greater. The top efficiency units will have around 10 HSPF. It’s important to keep in mind that a heat pump may not function well in extremely low temperatures, which causes efficiency to plunge. If you’re interested in a heat pump, you may want to look into the option for a dual fuel model that uses a backup furnace when necessary. Ask your contractor if this is the better choice for your house.

SEER is almost the same as HSPF, except it measures the amount of heat drawn out of the air rather than released into it. The ratio is the same—BTUs to electricity—and it is also measured over a season. (There’s also a rating call EER, which is the same ratio but measured over a single test.) The SEER on any heat pump is always higher than HSPF because heat pumps are more efficient at cooling than heating. The ENERGY STAR standard is 15 SEER or greater. A heat pump with 20 SEER will usually have 10 HSPF.

The more efficient a system, the more it costs to install. Our HVAC experts will help you with balancing out cost, performance, and efficiency so you end up with the ideal comfort system to meet your needs.

Gibson Heating & Cooling serves the Greater Cherry Hill, NJ Area. Schedule heat pump service with our superb technicians.

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