Heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners. The latest high efficiency heat pumps have durable features that last and are economical in the long-run. Because they move heat rather than generate heat, heat pumps can provide much more energy then they consume.

During the heating season, heat pumps use electricity to move heat from the cool outdoors into your warm house. During the cooling season, it’s the reverse – heat pumps move heat from your house into the warm outdoors.

But what do you look for to make sure your new heat pump will provide the most energy? Here are four features to keep and eye on when shopping for a new high-efficiency heat pump that will save you money in the long-run.

  • Look for features that supplement the heat pumps such as electric resistance heaters or burners as a backup for cold weather. Some models have a de-superheater, which recovers surplus heat from the heat pump’s cooling cycle. Look for two speed compressors that allow the unit to operate at the correct heating or cooling capacity needed for efficiency. Also, copper tubing is a good conductor of heat and does not corrode, like fragile aluminum tubing. Copper tubing is also relatively simple to repair in the field.
  • Noise factor is important. Many units carry a noisy outdoor fan that can not only bother your household but possibly your neighbors. Look for a grille design that minimizes air restriction, with the fan mounted on the underside of the grille, allowing the fan to operate more quietly. The fan is also protected from the elements of harsh weather and directs airflow upward away from the ground.
  • Check out the SEER or HSPF rating for your heat pump. SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, for air conditioners, and the HSPF or, Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, for heating equipment, tell you how efficient your heat pump will be. The Department of Energy requires all air-conditioning and heating equipment manufacturers to rate efficiency. Look for high efficiency units, which cost more, but over the long-run, the low operating costs will save you money. A high SEER/HSPF heat pump also can add value to your home which is important to today’s energy-conscious home buyers. High-efficiency heat pumps also dehumidify better than standard central air conditioners, so you use less energy for more cooling comfort in summer months.
  • Exterior features are important. Features like a louvered, galvanized steel cabinet can protect the condensing unit from outdoor hazards. The cabinet should be powder-painted with a high-quality enamel for durability over hard weather and time.

Remember low operating costs are little comfort if service and repair bills are high. Don’t be sold on energy efficiency alone. Make sure your heat pump will serve you well for the long haul.