If you’re interested in cutting down on heating costs during cold Minnesota winters, installing a heat pump is a great option.
But, of course, the first question that pops up is, “Well how much is that going to cost me?”.
Well, it costs anywhere from $4,669 - $5,689 to install a heat pump in Minnesota—with the average homeowner spending around $5,009.
The factors that affect the overall price of your heat pump installation include:
- The unit itself (the brand and size)
- Comfort features
Let’s take a closer look at those factors and how they affect the cost of a heat pump installation.
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Factor #1: The unit itself
When it comes to choosing your heat pump unit, how much you’ll pay is determined by 3 things:
- The brand
- The size
- The HSPF and SEER rating
Your heat pump brand:
The bottom line: The more well-known the brand, the more expensive the unit.
When it comes to brand, you have lots of options. But, for the most part, one brand doesn’t offer heat pumps that are vastly different from another brand. At the end of the day, just make sure you pick a brand/manufacturer that backs their product with a solid warranty.
Your heat pump size:
The bottom line: The “bigger” the heat pump, the more expensive the unit.
Heat pumps are sized according to how much heat they can transfer in an hour (heat pumps heat/cool by transferring heat from one area to another). They’re sized in “tonnage” and residential sizes usually vary from 1 ton to 5 tons. The higher the tonnage, the more heat the unit can move in an hour.
Now here’s the more important information about heat pump sizing: you have no say in what size you get. That’s because the size your home needs is simply the size it needs.
Think of it as shopping for shoes—you don’t get to just pick whatever size you want to wear. You pick the size that actually fits your foot. Otherwise you’ll end up with shoes that are too big or too small which is uncomfortable and a waste of money.
Heat pumps are the same way.
Let’s take a quick look at what happens if you get the wrong sized unit:
- A heat pump that’s too big will short cycle (turn on and off frequently) which causes hot/cold spots and shortens the unit’s lifespan.
- A heat pump that’s too small will run non-stop to try to heat/cool your home which will lead to frequent repairs and a shortened lifespan.
So how do you know the size heat pump you need? Well, the only way to get an accurate sizing is to have a professional measure how much “heat transfer” power your home needs.
This measurement should be based on a number of factors including:
- Your area’s climate
- How many windows/floors your home has
- How many people live in the house
- How much insulation your home has
Your heat pump’s HSPF and SEER rating:
The bottom line: The higher the HSPF and SEER rating, the more expensive the unit (but the lower your monthly energy bill).
A heat pump’s HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) rating measures how energy efficient it is in heating mode. Its SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) measures how energy efficient it is in cooling mode.
The higher the HSPF and SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit. Both ratings are calculated by dividing how much heating/cooling the unit provided throughout the season by how much electricity it consumed.
So what HSPF and SEER rating should you look for in a heat pump? Well, currently, the minimum ratings you can buy are:
- SEER 13
- HSPF 7.7
But, because of our colder climate, we suggest you look for a heat pump with a HSPF that’s at least an 8 or higher.
The bottom line: Typically, the higher quality the contractor, the higher the installation cost.
As with all professionals, you get what you pay for. And when it comes to heat pump installations, this old adage holds true.
You can choose to skimp on contractor costs but this often comes back to haunt you in the form of long-term repair or maintenance costs due to improper installation or faulty sizing.
Our suggestion? Go with a lower-priced brand and allot the largest part of your heat pump budget for labor costs.
But of course, choose your contractor carefully. Make sure that the contractor you end up with:
- NATE certified (NATE certification is the highest and most prestigious certification available for HVAC techs)
- Is licensed and insured in the state of Minnesota
- Is experienced
- Has great customer reviews
Factor #3: Comfort features
The bottom line: The more “comfort features” your heat pump has, the more expensive the unit.
Think of a heat pump’s “comfort features” like the advanced features on a car (such as automatic start or ventilated seats). These features improve the heating and cooling capacity or the energy efficiency of the unit, but they’re also more expensive.
Some of the advanced comfort features of a heat pump include:
- Variable speed blowers. These blowers are designed to ramp up or down automatically to provide the exact air output that’s needed at any specific time for consistently even heating or cooling. These blowers, on average, cost about 30% more than a single stage blower.
- Two-speed compressors. These compressors can switch between a “high” level of heating/cooling and a “low” level to provide the exact heat/cooling output that’s needed at any given time. Learn more about two-speed compressors in our blog, “4 Reasons You Should Be Using a Two-Stage Air Conditioner in Minnesota.”
- Scroll compressors. Scroll compressors are responsible for “compressing” your heat pump’s refrigerant to extract more heat from the refrigerant. Heat pumps with scroll compressors are quieter, more efficiency and have a longer lifespan. They can also produce air that’s 10° to 15° warmer than heat pumps that have a traditional piston compressor.
One last factor to consider: Do you already have a furnace?
For the most efficient and comfortable heat pump heating, you’ll want to consider pairing your heat pump with a furnace (this is called a “Dual Fuel System”). If you don’t already have a furnace installed, this will add on about $3,152 - $6,222 to your overall heat pump installation price.
You see, a heat pump is somewhat limited in the amount of heat it can push out in very cold climates like Minnesota’s. BUT that’s not to say that they can’t work in cold climates (to learn more check out our blog, “Will a Heat Pump Work in Cold Weather?”).
On very cold days, a heat pump simply needs a “backup heating” source. Some heat pumps have built-in electric resistance coils that automatically turn on when the outside temperatures dip too low. But because this form of heating is 3 to 4 times more expensive than straight heat pump heating, we suggest a “dual fuel system”.
A dual fuel system means that once your heat pump can’t extract enough heat from the outdoor air, your gas furnace automatically turns on to provide heating. To learn more about how this system works, check out our blog “What Is A Dual Fuel Heat Pump?”.
So if you already have a furnace installed—great! There’s no additional expense to your heat pump installation. But if you don’t already have a furnace installed, you’ll need to factor in the additional cost of installing a gas furnace in your home if you want to go this route.