Heat Pumps provide both heating and cooling. They save on greenhouse gas emissions over oil, electric baseboard heating, natural gas, and propane. They are cheaper to operate than oil, electric baseboard, and propane. With 2021 PECO rates, heat pumps are more expensive to operate than natural gas. Image: neep.org
The heat pump extracts heat from outside air, even when it’s cold out, the heated refrigerant is transported to an interior unit for distribution. The systems work in reverse to provide central air conditioning in summer. There are both ducted and ductless heat pumps available.
If your home is insulated and major air leaks sealed then you will likely feel comfortable with a cold climate heat pump down to single digits. For the times that we dip down to 0 deg F or below, the addition of an electric resistance strip heater added to the air handler will be sufficient to heat the home without the need for fossil fuels. Even though electrical resistance heaters (electric baseboard above) are not an efficient way to heat, the Philadelphia region averages 0.2 days/year below 0 deg F. This means that almost all* of your heating would be done with the most efficient heating (in terms of emissions) and only a very small amount of days with a resistance heater.
*Depends also on your set back temperatures.
The Haverford Township EAC gives periodic workshops titled "Heat Pumps 101." You can register for the workshops on the Haverford Recreation website. Upcoming workshops are advertised on the home page of this website.
You can utilize the preferred dealer list in the article above to find contractors for some of the top brand heat pumps. Make sure to ask for the part number of the equipment they are quoting for you.
Assuming the system is sized correctly, check out the heating capacity of the unit at different temperatures down to 5 deg F on the Heat Pump List on NEEP.org. website.
Modifying HVAC systems to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions is the most pressing challenge to prevent the worst of climate change. In this webinar, learn how heat pumps work, performance of today’s more efficient units rated for very cold temperatures, project challenges and nuances to consider when switching from fossil fuel HVAC, the rapid pace of technical innovation in heat pump HVAC, equity and larger trends among NY utilities and municipalities currently accelerating heat pump adoption.
Installing Air Source Heat Pumps in Cold Climates
video from Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships.