When it comes to keeping your house warm and cozy in the winter, there is nothing that can beat a heat pump. Not only do they keep the house warm but are also cost-effective. However, the downside to using a heat pump is that they sometimes struggle to work when it is too cold outside. So, let’s take a deeper look into how you can make your heat pump work when the temperature is freezing outside. Do you need heat pump repair or a secondary heating option?

How Do Heat Pumps Work?

To make sure that your heat pump performs effectively when the temperature is freezing outside, you will first need to understand how it works. In simple terms, heat pumps are both heating and cooling devices that are installed outside the house.

Due to its name, people most often confuse it with a device that is only meant for heating. A heat pump takes in air from the outside using the outdoor unit and throw warm air inside the house through the air ducts connected to the unit.

Heat pumps have two types: air-source heat pumps and ground-source heat pumps.

Air-source heat pumps are the most common and use the air outside to throw warm air inside in winter. Whereas in summer, it throws cool air inside.

On the other hand, ground-source heat pumps transfer the heat between your home and the outside ground. Plus, ground-source heat pumps tend to be more energy efficient when compared to air-source varieties. However, they are more costly to install as well.

How Do Heat Pumps Work In The Cold Weather?

There is no actually no rocket science in understanding how heat pumps work in cold weather. Keep in mind that heat pumps consist of four main components that help produce heat or warmth such as the compressor, outdoor and indoor unit, refrigerant coolant, and expansion and reversing valve.

These components work as a team to produce both hot and cool air. A standard heat pump comes with an inside and outside unit. While the inside unit is installed inside the house, helping distribute hot air, the outside unit is installed outside that takes in the air. Both units are connected by an expansion valve.

When the heat pump is in heat mode, it extracts air from the outside and push it to the refrigerant. Next, the compressor compresses the refrigerant, which increases the temperature of the air before it enters your house. But when the heat pump is in cooling mode, it does the opposite.

At What Temperature Do Heat Pumps Begin Losing Efficiency?

Although most manufacturers claim that the latest heat pumps do not freeze and are able to withstand extreme temperatures, but the efficiency of heat pumps at low temperature is questionable. Users have often observed that heat pumps do not work as efficiently when the temperature drops down to between 25 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

In fact, some air source heat pumps have been observed to perform perfectly below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a very cold region, use a cold-climate heat pump but have a secondary heating option as well.

Do I Need A Backup Heat Source?

There is no doubt that heat pumps work perfectly at certain temperatures. However, if you live in a region that drops below zero, you might want to avoid taking any risks and consider installing a backup heating source as well.

You can either opt for electric resistance coil heaters or gas furnaces. Electric resistance coil heaters tend to be more common as they are cheaper. At the same time, these coils have comparatively low energy efficiency, which makes them more expensive than heat pumps in the long run.

And the other option is to get a dual-fuel system consisting of both a gas furnace and a heat pump. But this will put a dent in your savings as the installation cost is going to be high. But you can expect higher energy efficiency. At the end of the day, gas furnaces tend to be a better option in the long run saving you both money and energy consumption.

Final Word

Heat pumps may struggle to work at anything below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or when the temperature drops down to -10. However, some heat pumps might survive but, in such cases, you cannot rely on a single heat source. You should connect with HVAC companies McLean and opt for a second heat source as well since external factors can leave you freezing if the heat pump fails to work.