A Homeowners Guide to Heat Pump Systems, Installation & Pricing
Posted on: August 30, 2017 | by: Will Housh
There are many ways to heat a home. From furnaces to fireplaces, homeowners have many options – which one is best for your home? Perhaps you’ve heard of a heat pump, but could you tell it apart from a boiler or a furnace?
In this Homeowner’s Guide, you’ll learn all about heat pump systems. Discover how they work, what type of heat pump systems are available, which heat pump system could work efficiently in your home and how much these cost.
What is a Heat Pump System?
Furnaces create heat, heating air by burning fuel. Heat pump systems do not create heat, as furnaces and boilers do. Instead, they transfer heat from one area to another. Because they do not create heat, these systems use less energy than furnaces and boilers do.
In addition to heating, heat pump systems are also used to cool homes. They move heat out of the home to lower indoor temperatures. Heat pumps are used as a combination heating and cooling system, or in addition to conventional heating and cooling equipment.
Air-Source Heat Pump Systems
To heat your home, an air-source heat pump absorbs warmth from outdoor air (don’t worry – despite feeling cold outside, abundant warmth exists in outdoor air). The heat pump absorbs heat from the outdoor air, transferring it inside your home. By moving heat indoors, the heat pump system causes your interior areas to feel warmer.
To cool your home, an air-source heat pump draws the heat out of your home, sending it into the outdoor air. By removing the heat, your home feels cooler.
Under optimal conditions, air-source heat pump systems can drop a home’s energy consumption by as much as 40 percent.
Geothermal Heat Pump Systems
Instead of moving heat energy from the air, geothermal heat pump systems use underground heat as an energy source. Sometimes called ground-source heat pump systems, geothermal systems use a ground loop to tap into ambient below-ground heat. This system of fluid-filled piping absorbs below-ground heat and moves it up to the home’s heat pump, where it is then transferred indoors to heat the home.
Geothermal heat pump systems can also be water-source. This means they pull heat energy from a nearby water source with consistent temperatures, such as a lake or pond. The heat transfers into the home.
To cool the home, geothermal systems draw heat from inside and transfer it into the ground or water source. Either the ground or the water, depending on the type of system you have, becomes a heat receptacle for the excess heat in your home.
Geothermal heat pump systems can reduce household energy use by up to 60 percent! They offer excellent humidity control, and long service life.
Is a Heat Pump System Right for My Home?
Not all homes are the right home for a heat pump system. Under certain conditions, heat pumps cannot provide the expected efficiency, and another type of heating system may be optimal.
Air-source heat pumps only run efficiently when outdoor temperatures are above freezing. If you live in a region where temperatures drop below 32 degrees, you shouldn’t choose a heat pump as your sole source of heating.
In an area where temperatures reach freezing, air-source heat pumps make good primary heating systems. You’ll want to have a backup system installed, such as a gas furnace, which can take over when temperatures reach freezing. Your heating technician can install controls which automatically shut down the heat pump if temperatures reach and drop below freezing. The controls will call for the furnace to come on, efficiently heating the home in these conditions.
Geothermal heat pump systems are another alternative in areas with freezing winters. Despite freezing air, the temperatures below ground remain constant around 55 degrees. This is more than enough heat to warm your home as desired.
In areas with mild winters, air-source heat pump systems are a perfect option to provide the heating you need. Depending on the specifics of your climate, you may not need a backup heating system.
If you switch to an air-source or geothermal heat pump from a conventional forced air heating and cooling system, you will likely be able to reuse your home’s existing ductwork, if it is in good shape. If you do not have ductwork installed in your home, the added expense to install ductwork may make traditional heat pump systems cost-prohibitive.
A ductless mini-split heat pump system allows for heat pump use in homes without ductwork. Individual indoor units mounted on walls or ceilings connect to an outdoor condenser. Homeowners benefit from the savings heat pumps offer, as well as the system’s inherent zoned comfort control.
Heat Pump Pricing
There are multiple types of heat pump systems. Heat pump pricing varies from one type of system to another. The final heat pump cost depends on:
- Heat pump pricing
- Labor costs
- Additional components needed for the system
Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the costs involved when installing a new heat pump heating and cooling system.
Heat Pump Pricing by Equipment Type
Heat pump pricing depends on many factors. The type of heat pump, its capacity, and other elements affect the cost of the unit. Below, we’ll discuss general heat pump cost and the elements which factor in.
Ducted heat pumps
Ducted heat pump heating and cooling systems act much like traditional central heating and cooling systems. The heat pump unit sits outdoors, and the indoor fan coil works to move conditioned air into living spaces via a duct system.
A ducted heat pump system may be most affordable if your home or building has an existing duct system that is in good shape. Using existing ductwork will eliminate the need to install an expensive new duct system, which can cost thousands.
Ductless heat pumps
In homes or buildings where duct systems do not exist, ductless heat pump models are an option. These systems, sometimes called ductless mini-splits, include an outdoor condenser/compressor unit and one or more indoor air handlers.
Ductless mini-split heat pump systems generally cost $1,500 to $2,000 per ton of cooling capacity for just the equipment, not including installation. This is approximately 30 percent more than central heating and air conditioning systems, minus the duct system.
Geothermal heat pumps
Geothermal heat pump cost is far more than other heat pump types, when installing the entire system. Geothermal systems require underground ground loops to harness the Earth’s natural energy. Installing one involved excavation, running hundreds of yards of piping, burying the loop, and more. This process is quite expensive. Installing a new geothermal heat pump to work with an existing ground loop is far cheaper.
Heat pump pricing for the geothermal heat pump itself will cost you between $2,500 to $8,000 depending on the model, not including installation. Installing the ground loop involves excavation as well as equipment components. Expect to pay several thousand dollars for its installation.
Add Installation to Heat Pump Cost
The total heat pump cost is determined by the HVAC contractor and varies across the country. In addition to the heat pump pricing, the final installed heat pump cost will include labor and any needed components for the system, such as those mentioned above.
- The price to purchase a ducted heat pump and have it installed runs on average $5,300 according to Home Advisor, but this cost can go well over $10,000 depending on the brand, energy efficiency, labor warranty, and other features.
- Ductless mini-split heat pump systems run an average of $4,000 to $5,000 installed. The heat pump pricing will vary based on the number of units needed to create the desired zoning.
- Installing an entire new geothermal heat pump system costs between $5,000 and $8,000 per ton. Depending on the size needed to heat and cool your home or business, installation can cost $10,000 or more.
Using the above information as your heat pump pricing guide, you may confidently shop for a new heat pump system as well as an HVAC installer in your area to do the job. There may be variables not mentioned above that are necessary to complete your project. Work with a heating and cooling professional you trust to ensure you’re getting the best price along with quality workmanship.
HVAC.com is your go-to resource for all things heating and cooling! We’ll help you find the right heat pump system for your home or business, and match you with a qualified contractor to perform the installation. Ready to get started? Contact a certified HVAC contractor for help with your heat pump.