Does a Heat Pump Work Well in Boise?

April 11, 2019

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If you’re looking for a new heating and cooling system, you may have read about heat pumps as a possible option.

Our opinion?

Heat pumps work well in Boise for the following reasons:

  1. They can heat AND cool your home
  2. They can heat your home at a fraction of the cost of other heating systems (one source estimates as little as one quarter of the cost)

Of course, this is just a general opinion. Since every home is built differently, you’ll need to contact a professional to get an accurate recommendation on what heating system is best for your home.

But to give you an idea of why heat pumps can be a good option for Boise homes, we’ll go into more detail about how they work and how they can potentially cut down your energy bills.

Want to know if a heat pump is right for your home? Contact a Boise pro

How a heat pump works

First, let’s look at how heat pumps operate.

A heat pump is essentially an air conditioner that can operate in reverse, meaning it can both cool and heat your home, depending on the season.

During the summer, a heat pump works exactly like a regular AC system: it takes warm air from inside your home, cools it, and pushes the cold air back into your living space.

But during colder seasons, when outdoor temperatures range between 40° to 60° F, heat pumps work in reverse: they absorb warmth from outdoor air (like a sponge) and bring it inside to heat your home.

Because heat pumps move heat from outdoor air, rather than heating cold air directly, they are more energy-efficient than other types of heating systems, such as a furnace or boiler.

Why heat pumps work well in Boise

Outdoor temperatures fall within the 40° to 60° F range roughly a third of the year here in Boise (March, April, September and October).

Since heat pumps use relatively little energy, that means during those milder months, your heat pump will warm your home, saving you a significant amount of money over time in the form of lower energy bills.

However, here in Boise we also have some very cold winters. So what happens when temperatures drop below 40°?

When temperatures drop below 40°, the heat pump will struggle to heat your home, so either electric resistance heating or a gas furnace will kick in to help heat your home (more on that below).

Now that you know a little bit about how heat pumps work, let’s look at a couple of heat pump options, based on the fuel source you have available to you.

The heat pump you get also depends on your fuel source

Below are our recommendations depending on the fuel source you have available to you:

  • If you only have access to electricity, go with a standard heat pump
  • If you have access to natural gas, go with a dual-fuel system

Let’s look at both of these options in more detail.

Only have access to electricity? Go with a heat pump

If you only have access to electricity as a fuel source, you have 2 options to heat your home:

  1. An electric furnace
  2. A heat pump

Compared to an electric furnace, a heat pump is significantly cheaper to operate, meaning you’ll have lower energy bills.

In fact, according to Idaho Conservation’s website, using a heat pump can reduce your energy consumption by 30 to 40% compared to an electric furnace.

Why?

Since furnaces create hot air, they use more energy. Remember: heat pumps move heat from outdoor air, which requires less energy than heating it directly.

Note: If you only have access to electricity and decide to go with a heat pump, when temperatures drop below 40° electric resistance heating strips will kick in to help heat your home.

Have access to natural gas? Go with a dual-fuel system

A dual-fuel system is the combination of an electric heat pump with a gas furnace.

If you have access to natural gas, the best option is to go with a dual-fuel system instead of a standard furnace or a stand-alone heat pump.

Here’s why…

  • Gas furnace vs. dual-fuel system: While gas is the cheapest fuel source here in Boise, a heat pump will still be more efficient than a gas furnace on milder fall/winter days. With a dual-fuel system you get the best of both worlds: Efficient heating on cold days (gas furnace) and efficient heating on mildly cold days (heat pump).
  • Electric furnace or stand-alone heat pump vs. dual-fuel system: Since gas is cheaper than electricity here in Boise, when temperatures drop below 40° and your heat pump needs help, you’ll be paying cheaper utility rates with a dual-fuel system than if you relied only on an electric furnace or a heat pump with electric resistance heating.

Learn more about dual-fuel systems by reading our article, “Dual-Fuel System vs Furnace in Boise.”

Want heat pump advice from a Boise pro?

Or give us a call at (208) 629-5192. We’re here to answer any heat pump questions you may have!


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