A heat pump can be a highly efficient way to heat and cool your Portland-area home via a single unit. We get a lot of questions about heat pumps. We’ve included some of the more popular ones below, along with answers to help you decide whether a heat pump is the right heating and cooling solution for you.

How does a heat pump work?

When the weather is warm, your heat pump serves as an air conditioner. A heat pump cools down your home by pulling the heat outside. When the seasons turn cold, your heat pump will actually extract available heat from outside, and move it into your home.

Is there enough heat outside in the winter for a heat pump to work?

Even during the winter, a heat pump can produce enough heat to keep your home warm. What’s more, your heat pump can also reduce humidity levels throughout the entire year. This comes in handy in the Portland-area, during long periods of wet weather.

One thing to keep in mind is that when temperatures are severely cold for extended periods of time, you may need additional heating. The Portland area sees its fair share of cold stretches, though temperatures rarely get below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Still, if you’re concerned about keeping your home warm when temperatures dip well below freezing, you may prefer using a heat pump as a supplemental heating source, in addition to a furnace system.

Can you explain how heat pump efficiency ratings work?

Heat pump efficiency ratings work in a few ways. The main thing to know is that the more efficient a heat pump is, the higher its efficiency ratings.

  • A heat pump’s heated seasonal performance factor (HSPF) is based on how efficient it is during different seasons. With newer heat pumps, most HSPF ratings are between 7.7 and 10.

Another seasonal rating to keep in mind is a heat pump’s seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER).

  • This rating is for how efficiently your heat pump cools your home. For newer heat pumps, SEER ratings are usually between 13 and 18.

Then there’s a heat pump’s energy efficiency ration (EER).

  • This rating corresponds with how quickly your heat pump cools down your home. Air conditioners also have EER ratings.

How does my heat pump’s efficiency impact discounts, tax credits, or other incentives?

Most efficiency incentive programs rely heavily on a heat pump’s rating. For example:

  • To qualify for Energy Trust of Oregon’s incentive, your duct heat pump’s HSPF rate must be at least 8.5, while also meeting additional criteria.
  • To qualify for a federal energy tax credit, your heat pump must have, at minimum, an 8.5 HSPF rating, 12.5 EER rating, and 15 SEER rating.
  • Depending on the brand of heat pump you choose, the manufacturer may also offer efficiency related rebates. As a licensed Bryant contractor, we can walk you through their heat pump rebate options.

What’s the difference between a ducted and ductless heat pump?

Most heat pump use ductwork, though ductless systems are become more popular, especially in newer construction.

The main difference between duct and ductless heat pumps generally comes down to how evenly the system distributes heat throughout your home.

With a duct system, some homeowners worry that different rooms or zones are not heating up well enough. This can be related to how well air circulates throughout individual rooms or zones of your house. In the end, it may not be an issue with the heat pump, but may have to do with your ducts, or even your home’s insulation.

A ductless heat pump usually heats rooms more evenly. Since these systems are usually installed in the rooms they’re meant to heat, uneven heating usually isn’t a problem (as long as the system is the right size for the room or zone).

Overall, heat pumps can provide you with consistent inside temperatures throughout the year. And again, because they help dehumidify areas of your home, they can be ideal solutions in Portland’s colder, rainier months.

Contact Comfort Connection today to talk about whether a heat pump makes sense for your home.


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