When it comes to air conditioning, one of the most popular options on the market is heat pumps. And it’s no surprise why—these systems are touted not just for their efficiency, but for their ability to reverse their flow of refrigerant. That means you can use these systems to either cool or heat your home, making them versatile systems all year-round.
The question isn’t “should I install a heat pump.” Rather, it’s “Which heat pump do I install?” There are different types to consider based on your needs and your existing heating and cooling systems (if any).
Ductless Mini-Split Systems
If you’ve ever heard of heat pumps before reading this post, then it’s most likely because of ductless mini-split heat pumps.
What’s truly great about these systems is their design lens themselves to efficiency. In your typical central air conditioning configuration, a series of ducts in your attic or crawlspace is necessary for circulating the conditioned air through your home. However, leaks or disconnects in these ducts can contribute to wasted energy.
A ductless system—as the name suggests—gets rid of this problem entirely. Each room is installed with a ductless unit, meaning that these rooms will never fail to receive the air. Each unit can also be individually controlled, allowing you greater flexibility over which rooms are using your energy.
Although the monthly savings are reason enough to consider them a nice investment, their initial costs might not be a wise choice if you already have a working duct system.
Ducted Heat Pump
If you already have a network of ducts in your home, then going ductless might be a bit wasteful.
Your normal central air conditioner—as mentioned above—uses ducts to transport air, but it can only generate cooled air. If you’re looking to consolidate heating and cooling into one system, then replacing the central AC with a heat pump would be a good decision.
Even with the potential for duct leaks, it won’t be nearly as expensive as installing a ductless unit in every single room. The occasional duct maintenance will be a small price to pay for the convenience of having every room routed to your cooling and heating system.
However, ductless and duct heat pumps still don’t solve this one last issue…
Dual Fuel Heat Pumps
One drawback of heat pumps we haven’t covered is that they’re not always the most efficient during the coldest temperatures. That’s because these systems don’t actually create warm air—they just move warm air from one place to another. Heat pumps are generally pretty good at taking warm air even in the old, but there’s a point where the temperature gets so low that this process is less efficient than a normal heater.
That’s where the dual fuel heat pump comes in. Like most homeowners, you may already have a heating system installed. Instead of getting rid of it, you can install a heat pump alongside it. You’d use the heat pump 90% of the time, but once it gets too cold, your gas or oil heater will kick in. This gives you full comfort for both heating and cooling while greatly reducing the costs involved.