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A-1 Mechanical Blog

Do Heat Pumps Struggle in Cold Weather?


If you’re in the market for a new heating system, a heat pump has undoubtedly come up on your list of contenders. But you have one concern and that’s because you’ve heard that a heat pump struggles in cold weather. With our cold winter weather here in Michigan, you’re not sure it can handle the cold.

We’ve written this blog specifically to let you know that you shouldn’t be at all concerned about a heat pump’s ability to heat your home. Plus, there are cold weather heat pumps to choose from. You might even be interested in a dual fuel system. Let’s go over your options and assuage your fears.

How Do Heat Pumps Work?

Heat pumps work by tapping into the ambient heat in the outside air and transferring it into your home. Now before you stop reading completely, let us assure you that even on a cold winter day, there’s enough ambient heat in the air for your heat pump to tap into. It might not feel like it to us, but there is.

The issue with really cold days (we’re talking temperatures that drop below 40°F is that a heat pump will struggle with efficiency. That means it uses more electricity to heat your home. This is the concern of homeowners who are fearful of high utility bills.

What Is a Cold Weather Heat Pump?

Cold weather heat pumps (also called cold climate heat pumps) have been designed to work efficiently when the temperature dips below 40°F.  They can work efficiently even in single-digit temperatures! Through advanced technology, these high-tech HVAC systems can function well at sub-zero temperatures without a loss in efficiency. In fact, they can operate at a 400% efficiency level! 

One feature that allows them to work so efficiently is a variable-speed compressor powered by inverter technology. This means they can regulate the speed at which they run. Compare that to a standard heat pump (or even a furnace) that only has two settings: on or off. 

They also utilize a special kind of refrigerant that has a lower boiling point than the kind found in standard heat pumps. However, all these advancements in technology come at a price. Cold climate heat pumps will cost more than a standard heat pump.

Dual Fuel Systems

If you’re still not convinced, consider a dual fuel system. The two types of “fuel” in a dual fuel system are electricity and gas: a heat pump and a furnace. You may be thinking, “Why would I get a heat pump and a furnace installed?” The furnace is designed to kick in on extremely cold days when your heat pump is struggling with efficiency.

Many homeowners like the flexibility that dual fuel systems provide. If your heat pump breaks down, you have a backup heat source in the furnace. Plus, you’ll reap all the benefits that heat pumps provide such as powerful air conditioning to handle our hot Michigan summers.

Contact A-1 Mechanical Heating & Cooling for heat pump installation in Lansing, MI. Comfort and Character You Can Depend On

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