When Abode Heat Pump Specialists talk to homeowners looking to learn more about heat pumps, we regularly hear the homeowners relay misinformation that was provided to them by HVAC contractors and Energy Efficiency Specialists. Some of the information they relay is outdated, and some is just plain wrong. Misinformation causes market confusion and hesitancy, so we must all strive to correct the common misconceptions highlighted below.
“Mini-split heat pumps are unsuitable for use in cold climates”
One of the major reasons that homeowners are hesitant to switch to heat pumps is a concern that heat pumps, especially mini-splits, will not be able to provide adequate heating in cold climates. While this was certainly a valid concern about a decade ago, developments in heat pump technology have rendered these concerns obsolete. Aptly named ‘cold-climate’ heat pumps such as Mitsubishi’s Hyper-Heat series can maintain 100% of their heating capacity down to 5°F and can outperform traditional heating systems down to temperatures as low as -13°F. Therefore, mini-split heat pumps can now be implemented as whole home heating solutions without the need for a backup, regardless of the regional climate.
“Heat pumps lead to worse indoor air quality”
Another commonly cited concern is that heat pumps have an adverse effect on indoor air quality as they collect and distribute bacteria. However, the truth is that heat pumps are equipped with filter systems and self-cleaning functions which prevent most contaminants from entering the home. This includes filters at the heat exchanger and an internal fan that keeps the system dry to prevent any chance of bacterial growth. This is doubly true for ductless heat pumps, where there are fewer access points for allergens and bacteria to enter the home. These sanitary features are absent from most fossil fuel heating systems, which means heat pumps provide better indoor air quality than most traditional heating appliances. Additionally, fossil fuel systems possess an added risk of malfunctioning and releasing toxic byproducts such as CO into the home, which is not a concern with heat pumps.
“Heat pumps are not good for the environment”
This misconception is propagated largely due to concerns over refrigerant leakage among environmentally conscious customers. Abode covered this topic in more depth in an earlier newsletter article and found that for a heat pump to have the same carbon footprint as a high-efficiency gas heating system, approximately 10% of the heat pump’s refrigerant would have to escape to the atmosphere. Given that less than one in ten heat pumps show signs of refrigerant leakage, the energy efficiency benefits granted by heat pumps far outweigh the drawbacks resulting from refrigerant leakage.