Here's an interesting fact: As you add insulation to a home and reduce the air leakage to tighten up 'the building envelope', the amount it takes to heat your home drops much faster than the amount it takes to cool your home.
Status quo furnace designs are strongly biased toward inefficient homes and cold climates like ours. Often the choices come down to big, bigger, or even bigger. Although this has always been an issue in mild climates, it’s becoming a problem in cold regions as homes are built tighter and more efficient; more sustainable environment
The new reality: a gas furnace maybe a poor choice for high performance homes
By comparison, gas furnaces do a good job but they have limitations. Some of the best performing gas furnaces are rated as high as 97 or 98 percent efficient. Physics limits further gains, as the combustion process is never 100 percent efficient.
Gas furnaces rely on burning fossil fuels, typically natural gas or propane. By contrast, heat pumps rely on electricity and refrigerants instead of combustion, and have long been achieving over 100 percent efficiency.
In fact, properly designed and installed heat pumps routinely achieve over 300 percent efficiency. This extreme performance has been verified on installed systems in real homes, not in a lab environment with perfect conditions.
In the 1970s use of heat pumps grew due to the oil embargo and the high cost of petroleum based fuels. Unfortunately, many systems installed in this period did not perform very well. This was not a problem with the technology, but with the industry.
However, heat pumps are not as forgiving as gas furnaces; correct sizing and ductwork are critical to optimal performance. Many HVAC contractors don't fully understand the technology;
Another myth is that heat pumps only work in mild climates. This thinking stems from the fact that heat pump performance falls off as the ambient air temperature drops(when it gets really cold). An old rule of thumb was that heat pumps are great as long as the outside temperature is above 30 degrees Fahrenheit. In some cases this is true, but heat pumps have been used in extreme climates (like Alaska) for years. Today’s heat pumps easily perform well into the teens, and special low temperature units will work well to -15 degrees below zero and lower without electric resistance heat strips.
Today, heat pumps are being used in a wide variety of residential applications. They can be used to heat and cool the home in central heating systems. They are used to condition small spaces in the form of ductless mini-split heat pumps. A more recent application is the heating of domestic hot water. Heat pumps can even be used to heat swimming pools.
Since heat pumps are electric, they are a perfect fit for solar applications. By installing heat pumps, we can use the sun’s energy to heat and cool our home and make domestic hot water. This is a very effective carbon free model that does not rely on fossil fuels.
Technology is advancing. In fact, many experts believe the future for residential energy is site-produced electricity from photovoltaics (PV solar), combined with heat pump technology, and storage (batteries). Tesla has introduced a new solar roof. We sell back-up power generators so we pretty knowledgeable about his stuff
It has worked for NASA and the space program for years it should work for your home too. In short, there are lots of smart folks who support this technology and see it as a critical part of a sustainable clean energy future.
This may be a conversation starter for many homeowners as we advance technology and options