What Generation is Your Heat Pump?

World events and trends tend to shape generations. What happens during your formative years may often change your behaviors and expectations as an adult. If you had a heat pump installed in 2007, you didn’t expect it to be “smart.” In reality, the 2007 model may not too different from the one you grew up with. A heat pump’s main function still is to heat and cool the indoor spaces in your home.

Whatever genertions you are, your latest home heating and cooling equipment was manufactured and installed in the iGeneration (1998 to present).1 Yet, a heat pump that set up in 2007 will probably not have the same performance in 2017! 

As more and more homeowners are expecting the latest innovative technology for their home and personal use.

Heat Pump Efficiency by Generation

By the late 1960s, most new homes in North America had central air conditioning. It wasn’t until the oil crisis of the 1970s that the heat pump became a more popular choice for heating and cooling homes. Heat pumps used a single ‘fuel’, electricity, to heat and cool a home.

Many Generation X’ers were children at the time of the oil crisis in the 70’s, witnesses to its impacts. Before 1980, many heat pumps had a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) of 6 or less and a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) below 5. By 1992, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) raised the minimum SEER of heat pumps to 10 SEER/ 6.8 HSPF.  The energy conservation movement was in full swing, and the push by Generation X’ers for more energy-efficient products was evident.

By 2006, the DOE raised the minimum SEER requirement from 10 SEER/6.8 HSPF to 13 SEER/7.7 HSPF nationwide. Efficiency to conserve energy and minimize consumer’s impact on the environment appeared to be an actionable priority. 

In 2015, the Millennials became the largest sector in the U.S. labor force, and the DOE once again raised the minimum SEER requirement for heat pumps. The minimum standard now stands at 14 SEER/8.2 HSPF, but residential efficiency requirements are likely to continue increasing in the future.  There is already a push to increase the current standard to 15 SEER by 2023.

So, if your heat pump was installed in the iGeneration, its efficiency rating could range anywhere between 10-14 SEER and 6.8-8.2 HSPF!

Innovative Technology and Heat Pump Efficiency

Today’s heat pumps are vastly different from the early models from the 1970s and ’80s. Innovative technology created by recent generations has played a big role in heating and cooling systems. 

Air source heat pumps that have typically reserved as a heating and cooling option for homes in milder climates are working their way north!  Innovative advances in heat pump technology have created a legitimate heating alternative for colder regions. Millennials who grew up in these colder areas may have rarely experienced heat from a heat pump because it wasn’t a comfortable option. However, today’s heat pumps are from Alaska to Florida.

Some models of heat pumps have variable-speed or dual-speed motors on their indoor fans (blowers), outdoor fans, or both. “The variable-speed controls for these fans attempt to keep the air moving at a comfortable velocity, minimizing cool drafts and maximizing electrical savings.” Additional advancements have also impacted the indoor comfort and energy costs associated with heat pumps.

The heat pumps of today are likely not the same as your parent’s heat pump!  I