How to Choose a Heat Pump

How to Choose a Heat Pump thumbnail
Consider the square footage of the home prior to purchasing a heat pump.

A heat pump offers a homeowner an efficient and comfortable way to both heat and cool a house. Properly installed, a heat pump moves air through a house instead of creating heat from combustible sources, this makes the unit highly energy efficient, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. A heat pump will efficiently produce one and a half to three times the amount of energy compared to the low amount of electricity that it consumes.


    • 1

      Size your home to determine the exact size of heat pump you will require. Heat pump sizes range from one and a half to five tons. To adequately size the home to determine the size of the heat pump required, consider that you will need 1 ton of heat pump for every 400 square feet of home space. For example, a 1200 square foot house will require a three ton heat pump to adequately heat and cool it.

    • 2

      Select a heat pump that offers a demand-defrost control option which allows the unit to minimize its defrost cycle which helps to save energy. The coils within a heat pump will often accumulate ice when the unit is in air condition cooling mode. A demand-defrost control senses coil temperature and turns on the heat to defrost and remove the ice only when the presence of ice has accumulated on the unit. Depending on the model of heat pump, many automatically cycle and turn on the heat every few minutes to insure no ice accumulation. The heat coming on constantly throughout the day can use excessive amounts of electricity. A demand-defrost control only allow the heat to come on when needed.

    • 3

      Purchase only a heat pump with an adequate energy star rating to insure energy savings. Energy star rates heat pumps on a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) which takes into consideration the efficiency of the compressor and the electric resistance elements. It also rates the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) which shows the units cooling efficiency. If the SEER number is high then its cooling efficiency uses a lot of energy. The most efficient units have a SEER of 14 to 18 and a HSPF of between 8 and 10, according to the Official Nebraska Energy Department.

    • 4

      Check the duct work in the home prior to deciding on a heat pump. Heat pumps require larger and more abundant duct work compared to other conventional heating methods. A heating, air and ventilation technician will be able to help determine if you will require new duct work to be installed in your home prior to installing a heat pump. Adding new or improving existing duct work can raise the overall cost of the heat pump purchase considerably.

Tips & Warnings

  • Energy Star rated heat pumps can be nine to 20 percent more efficient then other units, according to Energy Star.

  • An energy efficient heat pump will lower your utility bill, reduce global pollution and conserve the world's natural resources, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

  • All heat pump units marketed within the United States meet the federal government energy efficiency standards; however, some manufacturers exceed the requirements and produce a far more efficient energy saving unit so research the various heat pump manufacturers and models prior to purchase.

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  • Photo Credit house image by Brett Bouwer from

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