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Heat Pumps

Your Guide to Heat Pumps in the US

Your Guide to Heat Pumps in the US
Your Guide to Heat Pumps in the US

Find out about heat pumps, including how they work, how they are installed, their benefits, the savings you may be able to make on your energy bill…and much more!

Heat pumps are an alternative way of heating your home and providing hot water. They work by capturing heat from an external source (ground, air, or water) and transferring it into your home so is better for the environment.  

They can be most easily thought of as being like a reverse fridge, extracting warmth from an outside source and then concentrating that heat and transferring it into your house. Although a heat pump uses electricity to operate, because it does not burn any fuel it does not create any CO2 emissions.  

With many homeowners in the US looking to save money on their energy bills, and for ways to generate and use more sustainable, environmentally friendly energy sources, heat pumps are becoming more popular.  

 

close up heat pump outside home

In this article, we will take a closer look at heat pump systems in the US, focusing on: 

  • What is a heat pump system? 
  • How does a heat pump work?  
  • Different types of heat pump 
  1. Ground source 

  2. Air to air 

  3. Water 

  4. Hybrid 

  5. Solar 

  • What are the advantages of a heat pump? 
  • What are the disadvantages of a heat pump? 
  • Manufacturers of heat pump systems 
  • Benefits of a heat pump vs. a gas boiler 
  • Frequently asked questions about heat pumps in the US 

If you would like to speak with one of our recommended heat pump suppliers, please contact us today for expert advice. 

 

What is a heat pump system? 

A heat pump uses heat that is stored in the ground, air, or water to provide heating and hot water to your home. It replaces other heating sources like a gas boiler, helping to lower the cost of heating your home.  

As a renewable source of heat, a heat pump can create hot water for central heating and for domestic hot water supply. 

 

How does a heat pump work? 

A heat pump is a device that transfers thermal energy (heat) from one place to another – in this case, from outside your house to inside your house.  

Even in cold areas, the ground, air, and water all contain residual low levels of heat energy. A heat pump system catches this heat energy and moves it into your home through a series of coils and pipes.  

During the daytime, the sun heats up the ground. Even though this may be a low-level heat, the heat pump is able to extract it and concentrate it to be used in the home.  

Different types of heat pump 

There are two main types of heat pumps currently available in the US: 

1- Ground source 

Removes heat from the ground or a nearby body of water and transfers it into the home.  Ground source heat pumps work by a continual supply of refrigerant in what is known as a closed loop. 

A large loop of pipe (the ground loop) is placed in the ground or through a body of water. A mixture of water and antifreeze is pumped through this loop. As it moves through the ground loop, this fluid absorbs heat from the ground. It then passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump itself.  

When water is used for heat capture, the heat pump system uses water from a pool or lake in what is known as an open loop.  

There are several ground source heat pumps available, including: 

  • Closed loop vertical  
  • Closed loop horizontal 
  • Open loop dual well 
  • Open loop water source 
  • Open loop single well water source 
  • Closed loop water source 

Your heat pump specialist will be able to discuss the different options with you and help you work out the one most suitable for your property. 

2 – Air source 

As the name implies, this type of heat pump takes heat from the air. It does this through an external unit attached to the side of your house known as an evaporator. 

Fans blow air across a heat exchanger, where heat energy can be absorbed into a cold refrigerant. This is then piped into the house to provide heating and hot water.  

Even though it seems impossible, this can also work on a cold day in winter! 

 

Two other types of heat pumps are hybrid and solar-assisted, although these are not yet as common as the ground source and air-to-air. 

 

1- Hybrid heat pump 

A hybrid heat pump involves fitting a heat pump alongside another heat source, such as a fossil fuel boiler.  

This may be a suitable option for homes with a high heating demand or if a standalone heat pump would not be cost-effective for you in all situations (e.g. if gas prices are very low or you live in a particularly large home). 

2- Solar assisted heat pump 

This combines an air-to-water heat pump with a solar collector panel to power it. An advantage of the solar-assisted heat pump is that it can take heat directly from the sunlight, something other types of heat pumps cannot do. 

 

How are heat pumps installed? 

A suitably qualified engineer will visit your home to ensure it is suitable for a heat pump.

As part of their inspection, they may need to determine the amount of insulation to have, as this will be used to calculate the size of the heat pump you will need. If you will be having a water source heat pump installed, they will check the water is of a suitable quantity. 

An air source heat pump is relatively straightforward to install, assuming you have a suitable space to position the external unit.  

Once the outdoor until has been put in place, cables and pipes are run through the wall to connect it to your heating system.  

A ground source heat pump involves more work (and often more money!) as the ground needs to be dug up so that pipes can be put into position. Generally, the bigger your house, the more pipework you will need to have laid.  

Your heat pump specialist will be able to discuss the installation process with you in more detail, as exact specifications will depend on your property and the type of heat pump suitable for it. 

 

What are the advantages of a heat pump? 

So why do people choose to install a heat pump on their property? Below, we’ve listed a few of the main benefits of having a heat pump system...

Efficiency 

Heat pumps are incredibly energy efficient, making it one of the cheapest ways to heat your house.  

Lower your heating bill 

As above, with the far greater efficiency of a heat pump, you will have to spend less money on heating your home. While people continue to rely on fossil fuels to heat their homes, they bear the brunt of any increases in wholesale prices.  

Reduce your carbon footprint 

Governments, companies, and individuals around the world have realized the importance of trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Whether that means walking somewhere rather than driving, eating less meat, or recycling plastics, metal and cardboard, there are a number of practical ways to have less of an impact on your environment.  

A heat pump is another way of doing this. Even though it uses electricity to run, the heat it generates means it is a far more effective, less polluting method of heating the home. 

Good all year round 

Although it may seem strange, the temperature of the ground remains fairly constant throughout the year.  

Around six meters underground, the earth keeps a temperature of around 12⁰C, regardless of season. Although this may not sound very warm, this is more than enough for a heat pump system to work. 

This means that heat pumps can be used throughout the year, as they will work predictably and reliably - even in the middle of winter!  

Low maintenance 

Ground source heat pumps need very little maintenance. With the ground pipe buried in the ground, it is easy to access the other parts of the system for maintenance and repair if needed.  

Modern heat pump systems are bult to last for a long time and most manufactures and installers include a warranty for a certain timeframe for additional peace of mind. 

 

What are the disadvantages of a heat pump? 

Although heat pumps have several benefits, there are also some things you’ll need to consider as you decide whether to install one in your property...

Upfront cost 

There is no getting around the fact that heat pumps are still far more expensive to install than a gas boiler.  

Although costs are expected to come down over time as more people use them and companies are able to lower manufacturing and installation costs, the reality is that people on a tight budget may struggle to pay for a heat pump. 

Fortunately, the governments grant available through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme is helpful in this regard. 

Installation 

Because a heat pump uses a different process to generate heating and hot water in your house than a traditional gas boiler, installation is often a bit more involved and complex than replacing ‘like for like’. 

If you are having a ground source heat pump installed, ground will need to be dug up to enable pipes to be laid. This may involve the use of a digger and depending on the size of your property may involve a fairly big bit of land.  

Noise 

An air source heat pump can be noisy when it is running. While this is not usually much louder than an air conditioner, you may notice it, particularly if you have your windows open or live in a particularly quiet area.  

 

Is a heat pump the right choice for you? 

While these are not reasons not to go ahead with a heat pump system, we thought it is important to give an honest assessment to help you make a decision. If you would like to discuss any aspect of a heat pump installation and its running, contact us today to speak with one of our recommended specialists. 

 

Manufacturers of heat pump systems 

Current manufacturers of heat pump systems available for installation in the US include: 

  • Vaillant 
  • Daikin 
  • Mitsubishi 
  • Vattenfall 
  • Viessmann 
  • Worcester Bosch 
  • Grant 
  • Samsung 
  • LG 

Each manufacture offers different models and specifications for heat pumps, and you may find it confusing trying to work out what you need. Don’t worry - we’re here to help!

Our heat pump specialists can help bring clarity about the most suitable manufacturer and type of heat pump for your property. Contact us today for FAST help. 

 

Benefits of a heat pump vs. a gas boiler 

Many homes in the US currently use a boiler or furnace for heating and hot water. Such massive use over the years has meant lower installation prices for a new furnace, and certainly if cost is the only deciding factor, a traditional boiler is still the way to go.  

It is highly unlikely that the drive to make homes more efficient will go away, so a heat pump is an excellent way of future proofing your property.   

The Heat Pump Association (in the UK) website states: 

“Heat pumps are highly efficient, operating at 3-4 times the efficiency of a natural gas boiler, whilst producing considerably less emissions. This means that they not only reduce carbon emissions but can also lower energy bills.” 

 

Frequently asked questions about heat pumps 

Is my home suitable for a heat pump? 

With a few exceptions, most homes in the US could benefit from having a heat pump system installed.  

Heat pump systems work most effectively in a house with higher energy efficiency and good insulation 

If you’re not sure and would like some advice specific to your property, get in touch with us today and speak to one of our heat pump specialists. They would be delighted to help you.  

Are heat pumps noisy? 

An air source heat pump does produce some noise while it is running, but this is often no more than an air conditioner would make.  Your heat pump specialists will be able to discuss this more fully with you. 

Can I install a heat pump myself? 

The installation of heat pumps and any systems linked to it must always be carried out by a qualified person.  

You will also void any warranty if the system is not installed by a qualified person, so it really is not worth the hassle and potential risk.  

All the heat pump specialists we recommend have the training and experience to install your heat pump system so that you get the greatest benefits possible.  

Get expert guidance about installing a heat pump system in your home today! 

 

Heat pumps are best suited for houses that have good insulation, through its windows, walls, and roof. Our recommended heat pump specialists will be able to check how well your home is suited to a heat pump, making sure it does not allow heat to escape too easily (and that it has enough space for the heat pump). 

If you are a homeowner in the US and are interested in investing in a greener, highly efficient, future-proof energy source for the heating of your property, we would be delighted to help you find the right heat pump specialist for your specific needs.  

Get in touch with us today for help. 

 

Last update: 13 Apr 2024

Written by Mike

MyGreenHome editors Team is a professional team of copywriters and writes with dozens of years of experience covering consumers, financial and business products and services

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