top of page

The Benefits of Air-Source Heat Pumps

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

Photo of two men working on an air source heat pump

Our co-op staff are frequently asked about options when members are contemplating the replacement of a furnace and air conditioning unit. A common question is, “Would a heat pump help us save money?”

This question is an excellent one since, for most of us, heating and cooling accounts for the largest chunk of our household energy use.

An electric air-source heat pump can be a good alternative to a furnace system that runs on propane or fuel oil. A heat pump is also a cost-effective alternative to electric resistance heat that is used in electric furnaces and in baseboard and wall units.

How heat pumps work In the summer, an air-source heat pump acts as an air conditioner (AC) that draws heat from your home’s air and transfers it outside. In the winter, the system’s direction is reversed so that heat is pulled from the outside air and moved into your home.

The heat pump has two major components: the condenser (also called the compressor) that circulates refrigerant through the system and an air handler that distributes the conditioned air. Most heat pumps are split systems, with the condenser located outside and the air handler inside. A packaged system contains both components in one unit that is placed outside your home. Heat pumps usually distribute the hot or cold air through the duct system.

In the past, heat pumps weren’t efficient enough to work in colder climates. In recent years, however, technology has advanced to make them viable in climates with long periods of sub-freezing temperature, such as the Northeast U.S.

If your old furnace has an AC attached, replacing both the heating and cooling system with the all-in-one solution of a heat pump might produce significant cost savings. If you are currently cooling with window units, or have an older central AC, moving to an air-source heat pump could reduce your summer energy bills.

Heat pumps not only reduce energy costs, they can also eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and problems that can occur with on-site storage of propane or heating oil.

Selecting and installing Heat pumps must work harder to extract heat as the outside temperature drops. At some po