air source heat pump myths

Five myths about air source heat pumps debunked

If you’re looking into updating your home’s current heating and cooling system, you’ve probably come across air source heat pumps. And, you’ve probably heard a few things that made you wonder if they were actually worth the cost, or if they would even work for your home. In this article, we clear up some common myths about air source heat pumps for you.


Key takeaways


  • Air source heat pump technology has improved in leaps and bounds in recent years, and many people have outdated or incorrect ideas about their effectiveness.
  • It is very likely that air source heat pumps will work for you and your home if you are hoping to replace an older HVAC system or upgrade to a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly system.
  • Air source heat pumps help you save even more long term when you combine them with a solar system. Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to compare quotes from solar installers near you!

What’s in this article?

Myth 1: air source heat pumps only heat your home

You might think, based on their name, that air source heat pumps are just for heating your home. But they can do much more than that! In addition to being a very efficient alternative to more traditional heating options like oil or natural gas, air source heat pumps are also air conditioners. So they do two things – heat and cool – all in one system!

If you already have ducted heating and central air conditioning, you can replace your current system with air source heat pumps and usually bring your utility costs down. And if you don’t have ductwork in your home, you can install mini splits, which don’t require ductwork. A big benefit of switching to air source heat pumps for many people is that they replace the use of in-window air conditioners, which are significantly less efficient, louder, and more costly.

Myth 2: air source heat pumps don’t work in old buildings

Older homes can come with a lot of challenges, but installing air source heat pumps doesn’t have to be one of them! Heat pumps are a versatile heating and cooling system that can be adapted to your older building’s needs. However, as with other modern updates to old homes, there are additional factors that you may have to consider when installing air source heat pumps.

If your home already has ducted heating and cooling, you can often retrofit that system to operate using air source heat pumps. Older homes might have radiator heating systems that operate using oil or gas, which is where mini splits come in. You can install mini splits in older homes that don’t have ductwork to heat and cool specific zones in your home. It’s often not feasible to install ducts in older homes, and mini splits may provide an easier solution to this problem. You can also keep your old heating system as a backup to your heat pumps.

In addition to assessing the best type of air source heat pump for your older home, a heat pump contractor will want to have a good understanding of the insulation levels in your home. If your house is not well insulated, the heat pumps may not operate as effectively as possible. Updating the insulation in your home, if necessary, makes any HVAC system more energy-efficient.

Myth 3: air source heat pumps don’t work in cold climates

To get it out of the way: air source heat pumps definitely do work in cold climates. Air source heat pump technology has improved significantly in the past few years and they can now operate in much colder temperatures. However, it is important to take into consideration how low the temperature drops during the coldest parts of the year where you live when deciding what approach to take with your air source heat pump installation.

Many air source heat pump models are less effective when temperatures drop below freezing, but most correctly installed heat pumps in well-insulated homes can perform well at temperatures as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a location with a colder climate, many heat pump installers will suggest that you keep your previous heating system as a backup for very cold days. More likely than not, you won’t have to use it often, but it can give you peace of mind that your home will stay warm, even on the coldest days of the year.  

Cold-climate air source heat pumps are designed to work in lower temperatures, and while they have a higher upfront cost, may be the best answer if you would like to replace your entire system and operate heat pumps without an oil or gas backup. Your heat pump contractor can help you determine which solution is the best fit for you when it comes to installing heat pumps in cold climates. 

Myth 4: air source heat pumps are too expensive

Air source heat pump installation costs might be higher than traditional HVAC systems, but that initial upfront cost is offset by the future savings from heating and cooling your home efficiently. You may see higher electricity costs, but your bills for gas/oil will drop significantly. Depending on your current system, your savings could range from $300 to $948 annually

Also, if you factor in that heat pumps are covering both heating and cooling, you may find the cost difference isn’t as great compared to getting two separate systems.

As air source heat pump technology improves, these savings are likely to increase further. A great way to make your air source heat pumps even more cost effective is to power them with solar energy. If you want to see how much you can save by going solar, check out our Solar Calculator for an instant estimate to add solar to your home.

Myth 5: air source heat pumps aren’t environmentally friendly

Air source heat pumps use significantly less energy than any other heating and cooling system, which already puts them in the lead in regarding environmental friendliness. Their efficiency alone puts them ahead of any other HVAC system currently on the market. Additionally, they are operated using electricity, meaning that you do not need any gas or oil to heat your home during the colder months of the year. The best way to make your heat pumps as environmentally friendly as possible? Power your home with solar!

Frequently asked questions about air source heat pumps

Are you a good fit for air source heat pumps? 

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether an air source heat pump system is right for your home or business: climate, cost, and your current system. Learn more about how to decide if heat pumps are right for you.

What type of air source heat pumps are right for me?

Whether you’re looking to retrofit air source heat pumps into an existing building or incorporate them into a new building, a major benefit of air source heat pumps is their compatibility with most types of buildings.

How much do air source heat pumps cost?

Ductless air source heat pump installation can cost anywhere between $3,500 and $6,000 per indoor unit installed – the end cost will primarily depend on how many units you need. On the other hand, ducted systems will typically cost between $12,000 and $22,000.

Read more about common questions about air source heat pumps

Save more by powering your air source heat pumps with solar

Installing solar panels allows you to power your entire home, including your air source heat pumps, with renewable, zero-emissions electricity. Visit the EnergySage Marketplace today to receive quotes from local solar installers (including some who also install air source heat pumps and mini splits). Have some additional questions about going solar? When you receive quotes, we’ll connect you with an Energy Advisor who can answer your questions along the way (free of charge). If you’re a renter or you’re unable to install solar on your property, check out our Community Solar Marketplace – with community solar, you can still expect to save between 5 and 15 percent annually on electric bills.


One thought on “Five myths about air source heat pumps debunked

  1. P. Stewart

    Hi,
    Please do not share my personal information with any vendors or others at this time.
    This is just a question and answer session for now.
    I have a heat pump system installed in my home in Southern California in the early 1980’s. It is not very effective in the higher temperatures that we get or the lower ones. Would a a newer pump work better? If I added solar, would financial incentives still be available to me as I already have the ductwork?

    Reply

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