What is the most efficient heat pump? How much does a high-efficiency heat pump cost? What makes these heat pumps so efficient? These are the questions answered in our list of 2017 most efficient heat pumps. Two other guides in our collection might prove helpful to you:
Heat Pump Buyers Guide 2017: Comprehensive information for choosing a heat pump that fits your climate, lifestyle and the space it will serve plus heat pump buying tips
Top Rated Heat Pumps 2017: These are the best of the best – not always the most efficient from their brands, but always excellent quality with the expectation of durability.
The Demand for Efficient Heat Pumps
Every year, heat pump manufacturers push efficiency higher in their top units and across their entire lineup, though 13 SEER heat pumps are still permissible by law and produced by all brands. Here’s what’s driving the efficiency increase:
- High gas and electricity costs in the past decade drove up utility costs, and though prices are less volatile now, the shift to efficiency is in full swing
- The desire for ecofriendly heating and cooling
- Better climate control such as balanced temperatures, dehumidification in summer and humidification in winter (when the system includes a humidifier)
These seven most efficient heat pumps contribute to the first two, less energy use and cost. For optimal efficiency and indoor comfort, they should be paired with a variable-speed blower in the air handler or gas furnace. Yes, a gas furnace! Most of these can be used in a system that contains a furnace. Since heat pumps don’t heat well in freezing temperatures, a gas furnace is required. Remember, a heat pump draws heat from outside air when heating.
This setup is called a dual fuel system, and it makes heat pumps a possibility in northern climates. The heat pump does the heating whenever temperatures are above +/-35, depending on the brand and where the switch-point is set. The furnace takes over automatically below that point, and the system switches back to the heat pump when outside temperatures rise.
OK, let’s look at the…
2017 Most Efficient Heat Pumps
Most of these units have a variable-speed (aka modulating or variable-capacity) compressor that can vary from about 40% capacity to 100% capacity, moderating to meet precise heating and cooling demands. We note units that don’t modulate.
Also, the industry-standard warranty is 10 years on all parts. Some of these have better warranties, and we’ll note those too.
Lennox Signature Collection XP25 Heat Pump
- 23.5 SEER
- 10.2 HSPF
Last year’s most efficient heat pump tops the list again, the XP25. That’s not surprising because Lennox has made a significant investment in efficiency. It’s most efficient gas furnace (SLP98V) is at the top and its most efficient AC (XC25) is near the top of the efficiency scale for the industry. Lennox SunSource solar equipment is running entire HVAC systems in sunny climates, so no power is pulled from the grid. The single criticism of Lennox is that its warranties are only average. Still, Lennox’s Signature Series line that these units are part of has a good durability record.
Carrier Infinity 20 25VNAO & Bryant Evolution 280A Heat Pumps
- 20 SEER
- 13 HSPF
These are identical heat pumps inside the branded cabinets. The Carrier model was released first about 2010, and at the time, the 20 SEER cooling efficiency rating was highest among split system heat pumps. The 13.0 HSPF heating rating is still best in class. The Bryant unit was released a couple years later. Both have a track record of efficient durability.
Amana AVZC20 & Daikin DZ20VC Heat Pumps
- 21 SEER
- 10 HSPF
In 2012, Daikin, the Japanese HVAC giant, acquired Goodman, and with it came the Amana brand. The purchase gave Daikin, which was already selling commercial equipment in the US, a presence in the residential market. Daikin initially put its brand on Amana/Goodman residential HVAC products, but has recently been updating and upgrading Amana and Daikin equipment. What the consumer gets is solid equipment backed by some of the best warranties in the industry. The Amana version has a lifetime unit replacement warranty on the compressor. If it ever fails the original owner at the original address, Amana will replace the entire heat pump condensing unit (the outside unit). The Daikin warranty includes 12-year unit replacement coverage on the compressor and a 12-year general parts warranty.
Armstrong Air 4SHP20LX and AirEase 4SHP20LX Heat Pumps
- 20 SEER
- 10 HSPF
These units are identical. The parent company of these brands is Allied Air Enterprises, a subsidiary of Lennox though with different products. These are good-quality, efficient heat pumps that will give you 17-20 years of reliable service with general maintenance and minor repairs.
Trane XV20i & American Standard AccuComfort Platinum 20 Heat Pumps
- 20 SEER
- 10 HSPF
Trane and American Standard are nearly identical brands owned by Ingersoll-Rand. These units have been on the market for about five years, so there is good initial data to suggest that they are very reliable heat pumps. The Trane warranty is 10 years; the American Standard warranty is 12 years. The reason is that American Standard is marketed as a premium brand.
Heil QuietComfort Deluxe 18, Comfortmaker SoftSound Deluxe and Arcoaire DuraComfort Deluxe Heat Pumps
- 19 SEER
- 13 HSPF
United Technologies Corporation is the parent company to Carrier and Bryant, and those two brands make similar product lineups with some identical models. UTC owns a group of other brands: Heil, Keeprite, Comfortmaker, Arcoaire and Tempstar with similar lineups with some identical models.
These heat pumps are the most efficient two-stage models on the list. The 13 HSPF is especially impressive for a two-stage model. The compressor is backed by a 10-year No Hassle warranty the stipulates that the entire condensing unit will be replaced if the compressor fails in the first decade.
Maytag PSH1BG iQ Drive & Westinghouse iQ Drive Heat Pumps
- 19 SEER
- 10 HSPF
These are Nortek Global brands along with others that have very similar products though might be available only regionally. Those brands are Broan, NuTone, Tappan and Frigidaire. These heat pumps feature a rotary compressor with variable-speed operation. The unit that made our list last year, the iQ Drive PHS4BI (Maytag version) was discontinued this year, and its replacement isn’t as efficient. Maytag covers its unit for 12 years with a 12-year unit replacement warranty on the compressor. Westinghouse’s standard and unit replacement warranty are for 10 years.
The Cost of Very Efficient Heat Pumps
Prices vary by brand, but for just the heat pump (not the inside coil, refrigerant lines or installation), here are the prices you can expect:
- 18,000 BTU heat pumps: $2,600-$3,300
- 24,000 BTU heat pumps: $3,000-$3,800
- 36,000 BTU heat pumps: $3,500-$4,400
- 48,000 BTU heat pumps: $3,900-$4,700
- 60,000 BTU heat pumps: $4,200-$5,200
Note: 12,000 BTU = 1 ton
Hire an Experienced Pro for Heat Pump Installation
When installation costs are included, you’ll be spending $5,000 to $10,000 on a heat pump. That’s a major investment to put in the hands of an unqualified installer. We recommend that you get estimates from several local HVAC companies that know their competing for the work. Check on their experience and reputation using their BBB rating or online reviews. If you want to skip the hassle, or Free Estimates offer does the same thing, and it screens the companies for you. There is no cost or obligation to you, and all it takes to find a qualified contractor is to fill out a simple form and then let them come to you.