These are the 5 most efficient heat pumps. They offer lower energy bills and outstanding climate control. Homeowners are more interested than ever in very efficient, high-performance HVAC equipment. Heat pumps are ideal because high-efficiency models use less energy to heat than even the most efficient gas furnaces on the market.
How Heat Pumps Heat your Home
A common myth is that heat pumps aren’t efficient because they heat with electricity, and electricity is expensive. The part about electricity being expensive is true; the rest is not. First of all, heat pumps don’t create heat at all. As their name implies, they simply collect heat and pump it from one place to another.
Secondly, heat pumps only use electricity to cycle refrigerant between two coils using copper line. When heating, the refrigerant collects heat outside through the outdoor coil and carries it indoors where it is released into your home through the indoor coil. That coil becomes hot, and your air handler or furnace draws cold air over it to heat the air before pushing the warm air to the rooms of your home. In summer, the action is reversed; heat is collected inside and pumped outside where it is released.
An 18 SEER, 9 HSPF heat pump will use about one-third to one-half of the energy a 90% to 95% efficient gas furnace will use.
2014 Most Efficient Heat Pumps
If you’re in the market for a heat pump that will reduce energy use for ecofriendly heating and air conditioning while lowering your energy bills, here are the top five options.
SEER = Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating for air conditioning.
HSPF = Heating Seasonal Performance Factor for heating.
These measurements are like gas mileage – the higher the number, the less energy is used to get the heating and AC required.
1. Lennox Signature Collection XP25 Heat Pump
There’s a new most efficient heat pump this year, the Lennox Signature XP25. Lennox has shown a commitment to energy efficiency that surpasses most other major manufacturers of residential HVAC equipment. This is the next step in heat pump technology.
The XP25 achieves up to 23.5 SEER air conditioning and 10.2 HSPF heating, the best combination on the market. Consider the impact of replacing a heat pump that is 12 to 20 years old with this unit. The SEER rating of that old model is likely 8 SEER to 12 SEER, so you may be doubling or tripling energy efficiency! When replacing a 20-year old gas furnace with one, the energy reduction is even greater.
There are two other factors that enhance the energy efficiency of the Lennox Signature Collection XP25. First, it is a dual fuel heat pump. This means it can be used in very cold climates when a gas furnace is also part of the system. As you can imagine, because heat pumps collect heat outside in winter, they become ineffective at some point – usually in the upper 30s to about freezing, depending on the model.
In a dual fuel system, at that point, the system automatically switches to the gas furnace – which would normally be less efficient, though in very cold temperatures it is a necessity. When the outside temperature allows for efficient heat collection, the system seamlessly switches back. While dual fuel systems cost more upfront, they are the best way to lower your total energy usage and costs.
The second reason ecofriendly homeowners love the Lennox XP25 is the Lennox SunSource Solar Ready design. This means it can be integrated with Lennox solar modules that can collect, in some climates, enough solar energy to run the entire HVAC system and more!
2. Maytag PSH4BI iQ Drive 22 SEER Heat Pump
Last year’s most efficient heat pump, at least in terms of SEER rating, is still outstanding. The 22 SEER air conditioning is combined with 10.0 HSPF heating, so you’ll significantly reduce energy use throughout the year. Maytag puts this model in their premium stainless steel jacket that looks great and resists corrosion very effectively. The rounded corners are safer when children and pets are playing nearby. Maytag backs the PSH4BI iQ Drive with a very good warranty. All parts are covered for 12 years, and on some installations, labor is covered for 12 years too. Note: This model is identical to iQ models released under these brand names: Broan, Tappan and Westinghouse.
3. Carrier 25VNAO Infinity 20 Heat Pump with Greenspeed
Carrier introduced this model a few years ago, and at the time, it was the most efficient model available. It still is, at least in heating. The 20.5 SEER cooling is combined with 13 HSPF heating, so the Carrier Infinity 20 an ideal choice where the cooling season is quite long. This is a dual fuel system, called Hybrid Heat by Carrier, so it’s an ideal choice for regions with extreme temperatures in both winter and summer.
4. Bryant 280A Evolution Extreme Heat Pump
This model is new this year – at least for Bryant. Carrier and Bryant are sister companies, and this model is almost exactly the same as the Carrier 25VNAO, though dressed in a Bryant jacket. Both units, the Carrier and Bryant Evolution Extreme, are backed by 10-year parts warranties.
5. Trane XV20i Variable Speed Heat Pump
This is another new model for 2014, and Trane’s first modulating heat pump (See Below). The efficiency is very good, though not quite up to the level of the others on the list. The SEER rating is 19.75 and the HSPF is 10.0. What Trane means by “variable speed” is confusing. Most brands call it modulating or variable capacity. The compressor rotates at variable speed to create more precise heating and air conditioning based on the needs of your home.
Efficiency and Comfort through Variable-Capacity Performance
All of the heat pumps on this list offer modulating or variable-capacity performance. This means that the compressor works at capacity between about 40% and 100%, and adjusts in 1% increments or less. Until modulating compressors were offered, a two-stage compressor that ran either at 65% or 100% was the best.
Variable-capacity compressors improve efficiency because they deliver the exact amount of heat or cooling required to maintain balanced, comfortable temperatures. They also remove more humidity during cooling, and this reduces energy use by making the air more comfortable at a higher temperature. The result are longer, quieter and more comfortable cycles that are ultimately more efficient too.
This list is the right place to start if you’re committed to using less energy and reducing utility costs. Talk with a qualified contractor about which one might be best for your home. When you get multiple estimates from contractors in your area, you’ll find the right combination of price and installer expertise. See our HVAC reviews for more information on all of these highly efficient heat pumps.