As their name suggests, heat pumps remove heat from the air and transfer that heat from one area to another. That means that in the winter, your heat pump will remove the heat from the air outside your home and pump that heat in to heat your home. During the summer months, that process is actually reversed, and heat pumps are able to cool your home by collecting the heat from your indoor air and pumping it outside.
Since heat pumps are actually just moving heat from one place to another rather than generating it all on their own, they don’t require much energy at all to operate. While you can buy furnaces that are as much as 97% energy efficient, they’re still using more energy than a heat pump would. The fact that the furnace is turning the vast majority of the energy that it uses into heat doesn’t mean that it still doesn’t require more energy to operate.
Just because heat pumps are more efficient than many other types of heating systems, you can’t just assume that all heat pumps are equally energy efficient. Just as different types and models of furnaces have different energy efficiency ratings, so too do the many types, sizes and models of heat pumps. Make sure you thoroughly compare your options before you settle on the right system for your home.
The energy efficiency rating of a furnace is easy to recognize, as each of them comes with a standard AFUE rating. If you’re looking to switch to heat pumps, however, it’s easy to get confused when you’re trying to compare the energy efficiency of various models.
Heat pumps actually have two separate measurements for energy efficiency. These are the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) and the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). Energy efficiency measurements for heat pumps reflect both the cooling and heating efficiency of the system, and so what’s best for you may vary depending on what you’re more likely to use your heat pump for.