There’s no way around it: Electric is the way of the future for home heating. And we don’t mean baseboards or old electric furnaces. Instead, the U.S. is finally catching up to other countries that, for decades, have used heat pumps for all their HVAC needs.
We go into plenty of detail about heat pumps in this podcast episode and articles here and here. For now, the bottom line is that today’s heat pumps can keep your home comfortable year-round while using less energy and reducing your carbon footprint.
But, what kind of heat pump setup is right for your Fox River Valley home?
This article outlines three popular setups and goes through each one’s pros and cons.
The three setups are:
And, if you have more questions or want to know more about how one of these could fit in your Fox River Valley home, call us at (630) 504-8688 Or, click below for a free consultation.
Ductless mini-splits combine the power of a furnace and central air with the flexibility of window ACs and baseboard heaters. But, as with any heat pump setup, they’re way more efficient and comfortable.
You can read more about these in this article. But, the distinction between this and other systems is that it doesn’t require ductwork. Instead, we connect air handlers in every room you treat to the heat pump using refrigerant lines that run through the walls.
Customization and quiet comfort are top of the list here. You can treat just one room with a single air handler. Or, put one in every part of the house. You can add up to eight on one heat pump.
Each indoor unit has a built-in thermostat so that you can set them all to different temperatures. Or, give them all the same settings for the most even heating and cooling you’ll ever have.
The upfront cost is a big drawback: $3,500 and up for a single-sone (one room). It could cost up to $17,000 to outfit your entire house. You’ll make up that investment over time with energy savings, but it’s still a lot upfront.
And, if you already have ductwork and don’t mind forced air, it’s a lot to invest for energy savings.
A ducted heat pump works about the same as a traditional furnace and central air setup. You have the heat pump outside and an air handler in your basement or attic. The air handler connects to the ductwork just like conventional forced air systems.
Energy savings are the big draw here. You can spend way less on power than you did on natural gas or electricity for heating. And, if you already have ductwork, it’s a fast and straightforward installation process.
This is only worth the money if you have ductwork in the house already. There’s no reason to add another $3,000 or more for the ducts and vents. If you do, then it’s a quick way to get off fossil fuels and reduce your energy usage.
Also, make sure the heat pump you choose is rated for the subzero temperatures that are common during Fox River Valley winters. Older heat pump models are better for cooling and maybe some heat in the fall and early spring.
A dual-fuel or hybrid system uses both old-fashioned furnaces and heat pumps. With a system like this, you’d use a heat pump most of the time. Then, your system automatically switches to gas heat when it gets down to a specific temperature.
This is the best way to guarantee you’ll never get left out in the cold. Even as strong as heat pumps are today, there are some times when it’s just too cold for them to work.
The best heat pumps can keep heating even when it’s negative 13 degrees outside. After that, there’s not enough heat outside for it to keep you warm.
In most climates, that’s not a problem. The only time it dips that low is in the middle of the night, and not for that long. So, even if you’re “without heat” for a half-hour, your home is still warm.
But, in Illinois, we can get sustained temperatures lower than that. In those cases, the backup gas heat makes it so you never notice when it dips below the setting.
It’s what we use in our home, and the gas turns on twice, at most, every winter.
Once again, the cost is the real drawback here. You’re now paying for a furnace plus a heat pump. And, you can’t hook a heat pump up to any gas heater. Instead, you need a model that’s made specifically to pair with the heat pump.
If it’s time to replace your heater and you’re ready to invest, this is a good switch. Or if you’re already using solar power and are paying next to nothing for electricity anyway.
But, if you’re still on the grid and your current furnace is working fine, it’s a considerable expense all at once.
The truth is, no two houses and no two families are the same. But that’s the great thing about heat pumps: You can always find the option that works best for you.
We (Beth and Mike here at Compass) have a Daikin VRV Life dual system. For us, it’s a gas furnace, and the heat pump in a mini split with air handlers throughout the house.
And, we love it! We use solar panels for electricity, and our heat pump runs almost all the time. But, we barely ever pay anything for electricity.
Most of the time, we’re getting credit for power we send back to ComEd.
And, as we mentioned, that gas heat kicks on a couple of times every winter. It’s enough to make it worth the peace of mind.
But, of course, we have a home with ductwork, which makes this setup a lot easier. For older homes, a mini split is the way to go. Or a ducted heat pump system for a home with good ductwork.
Which heat pump installation is suitable for your family? WE can help you decide! As a Daikin Comfort Pro and Mitsubishi Elite Diamond Dealer, Compass Heating and Air is the trusted expert heat pumps and clean, electric, efficient heating and cooling in Schaumburg, East Elgin, and across the Fox River Valley. Call us at (630) 504-8688 or click below for a free consultation.