Heat Pump Buying Guide

A heat pump is essentially a furnace and air conditioner in one convenient package. Heat pumps, unlike other home climate-control systems, are particularly energy-efficient and environmentally benign since they collect and transfer ambient heat rather than burning fuel (or using energy-hungry electric resistance) to generate it. They are powered by electricity, can be installed in many different types of homes, and, depending on where you live and other considerations like the cost of electricity, can save you money compared to other HVAC systems.

If you need to repair or improve a portion of your HVAC system, you should look into heat pump technology even if it isn’t the best fit for your home.

If you’re looking for a heat pump, this article is your best resource.

Choosing the Right Heat Pump

Size (Capacity) 

If your heat pump is undersized, it will not be able to adequately heat and cool your home. However, if it isn’t a variable-speed model, a bigger unit will turn on and off more frequently than necessary, and at a higher cost. This reduces efficiency, puts unnecessary strain on your home’s components, and reduces comfort.

You should consider obtaining an undersized heat pump if you intend to have a backup heating system alongside your heat pump. Find out if this makes sense for your home with the advice of a professional contractor.

Types of Compressors

The heat pump’s compressor does the bulk of the work to move the heat across the system. Standard heat pumps only have one compressor speed. You can either turn it on or leave it off. The system is functional enough, however it causes significant temperature and relative humidity fluctuations during the day. There are still fluctuations, however they are less severe because some compressors operate at two speeds instead of just one.

A compressor with a variable speed is the best option. It is intended to run practically nonstop, gradually altering the amount of heating or cooling it provides to maintain a pleasant indoor temperature. When compared to basic models, it effectively maintains a comfortable relative humidity level in the home.

You may save money on your utility bills and make your house more pleasant with a variable-speed compressor. Moving a small amount of heat constantly requires far less effort than moving a large amount of heat fast, which may seem counterintuitive.


Many manufacturers list the decibel levels of their equipment in the manual and online. They typically give decibel-based noise estimates for a range of outdoor temperatures and fan speeds. Particularly if the heat pump is going to be positioned next to a bedroom window, a lower rating is preferable.


Our study of members shows that heat pump reliability is the single most important factor in determining whether or not a homeowner will be happy with their purchase. Based on information from CR members on about 13,500 heat pumps purchased new and installed in their own homes between 2005 and 2021, members may see the anticipated dependability and owner satisfaction ratings for 24 brands of heat pumps. Our report on the Most Reliable and Most Unreliable Heat Pumps summarizes these findings.

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