Are you in the market for a heat pump? If you are, take care to get the right heat pump so that you don't have to replace it a couple of years later after learning it isn't the right one for you. Keep these five things in mind when comparing different makes and models:

Fuel Source

This is probably the first thing you need to consider when shopping for a heat pump. The common heat sources include electricity, oil, and gas, with each having a few outstanding features. For example, gas is economical for freezing regions, oil requires sizable space for storage, and electricity can be terribly expensive.

Sound Rating

Some heat pumps can be very noisy while others run relatively silently. Your heat pump's noisiness depends on two issues – the sound rating and the installation place. The heat pump needs to be installed away from objects or structures that can vibrate and contribute to the noise, such as doors and windows. It also needs to have a low sound rating to ensure its inherent noise level is bearable.

System Category

Heat pumps are available in two major categories – split and packaged systems. Split systems have both indoor and outdoor units; the indoor unit is usually installed in a convenient location such as a crawl space or attic. Packaged systems, just like the name suggests, are all contained in a single unit, which sits conveniently outside the house. This makes the packaged system ideal for those who don't have spaces for installing a split system.

Existing Duct Setup

You also need to evaluate the existing duct set up to determine whether it can handle a duct system. Ideally, the ductwork should have been installed in your house during construction or a major renovation project. That would save you from having to install ducts in the walls, a rather expensive and complicated affair. Alternatively, you can opt for a ductless system that doesn't require any substantial renovation.

Advanced Features

Heat pumps come with different advanced features that add different levels of convenience and efficiency. For example, there are heat pumps with variable fan speeds, which allow you to run the heat pump a little slower and save energy if the weather isn't particularly hot. There are also heat pumps that come with modulating gas valves, which control the amount of energy being consumed by the system, which also saves energy.

Most homeowners can't make these heating and cooling evaluations successfully without professional help. Therefore, if you aren't confident in choosing the right system on your own, let the contractor who will be installing the heat pump for you help you with the decision too.