Heat Pumps – Frequently Asked Questions
Can heat pumps produce enough heat for an entire home or business?
Yes. They can heat entire homes or businesses as long as they are located and sized properly.
Do heat pumps work in cold weather?
Yes. The high efficiency units that qualify for Efficiency Maine rebates work well in cold weather. Some are rated to work down to -15°F.
How do I find a heat pump installer near me?
Click here to use our Vendor Locator Tool.
Why is the air coming out of my heat pump not as hot as the air that comes out of my furnace?
Heat pumps and furnaces provide heat in different ways. Furnaces send hot air to the house in bursts, while heat pumps provide warm air for longer periods of time. The total amount of heat is the same, but heat pumps produce the heat more efficiently, and the steady heat can improve comfort.
Can I offset household carbon emissions by using a heat pump?
Heat pumps use electricity to heat your home, so their carbon footprint depends on the power generation that serves the regional energy grid. The mix of generation that serves the grid in Maine is among the cleanest in the country. If you have a heat pump that offsets just one third of your home’s annual heating load, and if you heat with oil like most Mainers, the heat pump would eliminate 2,400 pounds of CO₂ per year, the equivalent of eliminating the carbon pollution from three months of average driving. The more your heat pump offsets your home’s heating from fossil fuels, the more you will reduce your carbon emissions.
Why does my heat pump briefly stop producing heat in cold weather?
In cold weather, heat pumps will occasionally run through a short defrost cycle to remove ice from the outdoor unit. When this happens, the heat pump temporarily stops producing heat. The defrost cycle lasts for only a few minutes and is part of the normal operation of a heat pump.
Why does my heat pump make an occasional gurgling noise?
The indoor and outdoor units of a heat pump are connected by copper pipes that carry refrigerant between the two. As the refrigerant moves through the pipes, it can produce a gurgling sound. This sound should not be cause for concern. It is part of the normal operation of a heat pump.
Will a heat pump reduce my annual heating costs?
What else can heat pumps do beyond heating?
High-efficiency heat pumps perform the same functions as five different appliances: heaters, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, ceiling fans, and room air filters.
Do I need to replace my current heating system if I want to use a heat pump?
No. Though high-efficiency heat pumps may be configured to work as the sole heating system, they are often used to supplement an existing system (for example, by installing a heat pump in one room and using the central oil boiler system to heat the rest of the building).
Is there a temperature below which a conventional heating system is cheaper to run than a heat pump?
Yes. Using 2022 energy prices, oil is more expensive than heat pumps above negative 1F and propane is more expensive above negative 11F. Switching to oil or propane below these temperatures and then failing to switch back to heat pumps exactly when temperatures exceed these points could end up costing more. Therefore, we recommend against switching back and forth.
Assumptions: Oil at $3.86/gal, 87% combustion efficiency, and 80% distribution efficiency. Propane at $3.43/gal, 90% AFUE, and 80% distribution efficiency. Electricity at 22 cents/kwh, heat pump COP=2.93, and 100% distribution efficiency. 80MMbtu/yr heating load.
How do rebate-qualifying heat pumps compare with ones that don’t qualify for rebates?
Qualifying units are more efficient at producing heat than non-qualifying units when outside temperatures are low. This enables qualifying units to produce more heat than non-qualifying units.