Cold Weather Limitations of a Heat Pump

The heat pump is one source to consider when choosing a climate control system for your home. Heat pumps are more energy efficient than furnaces, particularly in moderate climates. The climate is a consideration, however, when deciding on a heat pump as a heating source for your home.

Heat pumps warm your house in winter.


Air-source heat pumps bring in air from the outside, heat the air and pump it into the house. These heat pumps require a back up heating source in areas of extreme cold. They are the most affordable of the heat pump choices. Geothermal heat pumps take heat from the ground or an underground water source. They are more energy efficient than air-source heat pumps but are more expensive to install.

How They Work

The heat pump is technically an air conditioner that runs in reverse. The system consists of an inside unit, or air handler, and an outside unit that contains the compressor. The outside unit pulls the warmth that is present in the outside air, passes it through the compressor which warms the air and pumps it into your house.

In warm weather the heat pump works in reverse to cool your home. Warm air is pumped outside from your home. The outside unit extracts cool air, cools it in the compressor and pumps it into your house.

Temperature Limitations

Heat pumps are most efficient when temperatures are around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. As the temperature outside drops below 50 degrees the heat pump has to work harder to keep your home warm. When the outside temperature is about 37 degrees Fahrenheit the heat pump has to work continuously. Air-source heat pumps are not suitable for climates with temperatures below 30 degrees. In these colder climates a geothermal heat pump provides a better heat source.