Living up north, a heat pump can’t handle demand

When my husband and I built our house, we made the mistake of trusting the general contractor’s recommendation for a heating and cooling system.

  • We should have done some research into the different types of equipment available.

We should have hired a licensed HVAC contractor to handle the design of the temperature control unit. Instead, we ended up with an electric heat pump. Heat pumps offer a lot of wonderful benefits. The one system provides both heating and cooling capacity and is exceptionally energy efficient. It operates quietly and is great for summer air conditioning and dehumidifying. The heat pump doesn’t burn fossil fuels, so there’s no combustion process or byproducts. We don’t need to worry about hot surfaces, fumes or carbon monoxide, and we’ve definitely reduced our carbon footprint. Unfortunately, the heat pump is only effective in heating mode until the outside temperature drops down to freezing levels. At that point, there’s not enough ambient heat in the air. In the area where I live, the weather drops below freezing for four to five months of the year. My house is always chilly, no matter how high I adjust the thermostat. We’ve been forced to add space heaters to supplement the heat pump. We’ve lived in the house for four years, and we’re now considering investing into a gas furnace. We could still use the heat pump for cooling in the summer, and heating during the fall and spring seasons. In the winter, we’d need to switch over to the furnace. Since we are still trying pay off the cost of building the home and installing the heat pump, we’re having some difficulty coming up with the money to buy a furnace.

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