Mike Cappuccio talks about common heat pump myths, including that they create their own heat, and that they can’t heat in very cold temperatures.
My name is Mike Cappuccio. I’m the founder of N.E.T.R., and today I’m here to talk to you about some of the myths about heat pumps.
The first myth I want to talk to you about is a lot of people say that heat pumps create heat. Well, they don’t really create heat. What they do is they take heat and they move it from one space to another. Example, they take the heat and they move it outside or they take the cold there and they move it outside, and they move it from one place to another.
Now, with the gas furnace, you do create heat inside the home, because that has a flame and it is burning inside of the home. So with the actual electric heat pump, you’re just taking the heat from one place to another, putting it outside or putting it inside, doing what you’re doing with that.
The other thing people say is heat pumps don’t work in cold temperatures. Now that is one of the biggest myths that I’ve ever heard in doing this in 32 years of businesses, that they don’t heat in cold temperatures. Well, they do. We’ve proven this.
We’ve been working on this for the past 15 to 20 years where we do have heat pumps that heat down to minus 13 degrees (F). We have multi-zone systems that heat down to full heating capability at five degrees. And we have done these in homes as a full source of heating. The older heat pumps basically had a condenser that sat outside, maybe an air handler that might’ve sat in the basement or the attic. And a lot of these heat pumps didn’t heat at cold temperatures, and they had to use what was called a backup source of heat. And you’d look at the thermostat and you’d see the light on below 32 degrees, and it would say “auxiliary heat is activated”.
Well, what you are activating is basically like a toaster oven that would sit in your duct work and it was an electric heating element that would basically be heating your home. So you weren’t really heating the home with your heat pump, you were heating it with electric heat at that time. So they did not heat at that time, but now that’s gone away. We don’t use backup electric resistance heat in heat pumps anymore.
The third myth is that gas furnaces are more efficient than heat pumps. Well, I’m not going to say that gas is more efficient because I’ve seen instances where an inverter-driven heat pump at cold temperatures is much more efficient than gas heat. So when you look at an 80% furnace versus an inverter-driven heat pump, we’re right about the same efficiency when it comes to cost per BTU.
And when you look at the heating season in New England, we don’t really have a lot of extremely cold days. If you were to look at the heating hours of how long we actually have in the wintertime, it’s not as great as you think, below a certain temperature. So the pumps are super efficient at 17 degrees, 20 degrees. And we have a lot of days and a lot of hours we’re at those temperatures, where we can be more efficient than a gas furnace.
The last myth that I want to talk about is that you can’t use other (heating) sources with a heat pump. Well, we’ve done many installations where we integrate a heat pump with an existing heating system. So what you basically do is you come in the home and you can put in a ductless heating and cooling system into the home and integrate it with the existing heating system. So above 20 degrees, you’re using the heat pump to heat your home all the time and below 20 degrees you can be using the fossil fuels to heat your home, depending on which system has more efficiency at those temperatures, because there are some gas furnaces that are very efficient, when you get into the 98% furnaces and things like that. In some of these older homes that do have some leakage in the home where you do have a higher heating capacity, you might need an auxiliary heating system or actually a backup heating system. So you can integrate both together. There’s many integration packages you can put in to use the two together.