Heat Pump is an energy-efficient home heating system that saves you money by using less electricity to control your indoor climate. Like air conditioning, heat pumps also offer a cooling feature, and in many cases they can be combined with high-performance insulation and professional air sealing upgrades to significantly reduce your annual energy use.

Heat pumps are based on the simple concept that heat naturally flows from warmer to colder areas. They can extract heat from the surrounding air, or they may have a backup source of heat such as geothermal energy stored in the ground, solar panels, waste heat from a factory, or a conventional gas furnace.

The heat they produce is multiple times greater than the energy required to operate them, and most modern systems are 3-5 times more efficient than traditional gas boilers. However, they do not work very well in very cold climates where the outdoor temperature drops to near or below freezing on a regular basis, although innovators are working to improve the performance of special Heat Pump that can overcome this limitation.

A key reason to choose a heat pump is its ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Since they run on electricity, which is generated mostly from fossil fuels, they emit far fewer greenhouse gases than traditional gas heating systems. In some states and localities, heat pumps are eligible for rebates or other incentives when combined with rooftop solar panels, community solar, or a cleaner grid.

If you are considering a heat pump, ask top-rated contractors for information and price quotes. They can help you understand how heat pumps compare with other heating systems, and what the benefits and costs are of a hybrid setup that uses a combination of heat pump and supplemental electric heating (as needed in very cold climates).

Keeping your heat pump clean optimizes its performance. A simple monthly checkup including a filter change, cleaning of fans and coils, and ensuring that refrigerant is properly charged can keep it in good condition. If you have a problem with your heat pump, it’s important to call in a professional for safety reasons. Heat pumps contain toxic chemicals and can leak dangerous substances if not handled correctly.

When choosing a heat pump, look for models with a high SEER and HSPF rating, which measure the efficiency of cooling and heating. The HSPF rating indicates how much the system can be used for heating without producing a significant amount of carbon dioxide.

Some heat pump systems are ductless, meaning they do not depend on ductwork to move heated and cooled air throughout your house. These are common in newer homes, or for homeowners who want to retrofit a non-duct system into an existing home. They consist of an outdoor unit that connects to individual indoor air-handler units, or “heads,” which are installed on ceiling or wall.