Should I get a heat pump in Seattle?

In the Seattle area, residents are much more likely to buy heat pumps than some other parts of the country. The reasoning behind this is it’s not as cold in the winter as other parts of the northern United States, like in the East or Mid-West. With a heat pump what happens is, the colder the temperature gets, the less the heat pump is able to deliver into a house. But if it continually drops below freezing all winter long, heat pumps effectiveness is greatly diminished or become much too expensive to run.

To give you a brief description of what the heat pump does, it collects heat from outside the home right down to relatively cold temperatures and brings that heat into the home, thereby, in a sense, producing free heat. The issue is, and why it’s not free, it takes electricity to absorb and extract the heat out of the air outside. So, the colder it is or the more expensive utility rates are, the less likely it is that heat pump can save you money.

Seattle is better than other areas of the country in the winter because it’s a little bit warmer in the winter and it’s more heat to extract. On average, sometimes Seattle only get 25 days of freezing per year, meaning the rest of the time that it’s in heating mode, it will be able to function.

The alternative to getting a heat pump is to just get an air conditioner. Usually, people buy heat pumps because they really want an air conditioning system for the house which a heat pump also does. In the summer time, if you don’t want an air conditioning system, don’t bother getting heat pump just for the utility savings because the heat pumps cost more money up front then an air conditioner and if you can’t save enough money, with a heat pump, over the winter, then it becomes pointless to buy one in the first place.

About 5 years ago people in the Seattle area bought many more heat pumps than they do today, but with rising electricity costs, the number of heat pumps being purchased in the Seattle area has greatly diminished.

The Verdict

My suggestion, at this point, is to likely just get an air conditioner and not a heat pump, unless your backup heat source is not natural gas. Natural gas is by far the least expensive backup heat source. So, if your backup heat source is propane or oil or other fuels, then heat pump will easily be able to save you considerable amount of money.