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Can A Heat Pump Really Heat A Home During Cold Maine Winters?

If you live in Maine where subzero temperatures are a common occurrence during the winter, heating your home is likely one of your major concerns. Finding an economical and efficient heat source to keep your family warm and comfortable without breaking the bank isn't always easy, but there are several options. In recent years, heat pumps have gained popularity because they produce heat from the natural heat in the air and don't require a fuel source. You may find yourself wondering if a heat pump is a practical and efficient way to heat your home during a frigid Maine winter. Find out if a heat pump is a good choice for you.

How does the heat pump work?

Heat pumps work by transferring heat from the cold air outside your home to the air inside your home. Amazingly, even air that feels cold to you contains enough heat to heat your home. This process does not require a fuel source, such as fuel oil or propane, but it does require electricity. Traditional heat pumps are most efficient in moderate climates, such as North Carolina (in which it would be best to contact a local company like Cape Fear Air Conditioning & Heating Co., Inc.), but geothermal heat pumps can be used in colder climates. Geothermal heat pumps rely on coils buried under the ground below the frost level where the earth remains warm. These heat pumps absorb the heat from the earth and pump it into your home.

Do heat pumps really work in cold weather?

Traditional heat pumps are efficient in moderate temperatures, but according to How Stuff Works, all-climate heat pumps work at temperatures as low as -30 degrees F. While temperatures may drop lower than -30 on occasion during a Maine winter, especially in northern Maine, temperature generally stay about this level. According to the U.S. Climate Data, even as far north as Fort Kent, Maine averages -5 degrees F for the low during the winter months. The lowest recorded temperature in Maine occurred in 2009 when it dipped to -50 degrees F, reports infoplease. That means that a geothermal or all-climate heat pump can handle most winter temperatures in Maine.

What are some potential issues with heat pumps in cold Maine winters?

Traditional heat pumps may have difficulty heating your home in extreme cold weather, but an all-climate or geothermal unit should operate efficiently during the average Maine winter. Snow and ice may accumulate on outside parts and care must be taken to keep them free of ice and snow. In addition, use care to install the outside unit away from eaves where ice and snow may fall and damage the unit.

Do you need a supplemental heat source?

If you live in Maine, you already know that power outages can happen at any time during the winter. Ice and snow storms can damage electrical lines and fallen trees often interrupt electrical power. During severe weather the electricity can be out for days, especially if you live in a rural area where the electric company has miles of electrical lines to service. Many people in Maine have a secondary heat source, such as a propane heater or wood-burning stove, that does not rely on electricity for use in emergency power outages. While it is doubtful that temperatures will drop so low that your heat pump will not be able to heat your home, if the electricity goes off you will be without heat. Alternately, you can install a generator to power your heat pump if you lose electricity.

Talk to your local HVAC contractor about your heating needs. He can recommend the correct size and model of heat pump to keep your home warm and cozy during the winter and advise you of alternate heat sources for when a nor'easter blows through and causes power outages.