Q:

What are the pros and cons of heat pumps?

A:

Quick Answer

The advantages of heat pumps include increased energy efficiency, lesser environmental impact and fewer maintenance issues than other heating systems, while disadvantages include poor efficiency and performance in very cold climates. Heat pumps also provide a lower risk of accidents because they don't use combustible or volatile materials.

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Full Answer

Heat pumps consume just 1 kilowatt of electricity to produce 4 kilowatts of heat, providing a 400 percent perceived efficiency, compared to the 75 to 80 percent efficiency rate of boilers. Users can hook a heat pump up to a solar photovoltaic electricity source for a green solution or couple it with a furnace to enjoy a powerful duel-heating system. Heat pumps offer both heating and cooling in a single system to minimize upkeep, and users may install them near spas and pools.

Efficiency begins to falter when the outside air dips below freezing, so users in colder regions may need a back-up heating system, such as a boiler or furnace, particularly if they have an older heat pump. Unlike boilers and furnaces that are protected inside, air-source heat pumps require that users check regularly to ensure the outdoor cabinet is free of debris and snow. Additionally, poorly installed heat pumps may not heat effectively.

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