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How to Maximize Your Heat Pump’s Efficiency

Heat pumps are becoming popular among homeowners due to their reliability and high efficiency. Rather than producing heat, they transfer it from one place to another and. On cold days, they move heat from the outdoor air to keep your house warm. Heat transfer uses less energy than producing it. Whether you have a heat pump at home or are thinking of installing one, you can employ the following tips and enjoy reduced energy bills.

1. Use a Thermostat

Using a heat pump thermostat is vital, as it continuously raises the temperature by 1 degree until the system achieves the programmed temperature. For instance, when you set an overnight temperature at 68 degrees and a daytime temperature of 72 degrees, the heat pump thermostat will calculate how long it will take to get to the desired temperature by the expected time. It will then signal the heat pump to start operating on time.

If you suddenly raise the temperature settings, your system may use more energy. Sudden adjustments to raise the temperature can activate the backup heater, which is less efficient. You can get a smart heat pump thermostat for better energy efficiency. This allows you to control the operation of your system regardless of its location. You can turn your system to energy-saving mode if you unintentionally left it running. Smart thermostats also automatically turn off your heat pump when the house is heated to the desired temperature.

Since some thermostats are incompatible with some heat pumps, you need to make sure the model you choose works with your heat pump.

2. Avoid Reliance on Emergency Heat

The emergency heat setting is used as a supplement heat source when the heat pump fails to deliver the expected temperature. This is often due to very low outdoor temperatures or problems with the system. 

Emergency heat has benefits: It produces heat faster than the heat pump to get your desired temperature quickly. It also ensures uninterrupted warmth during the heat pump’s defrost cycle as the system removes accumulated ice from the outdoor coil. However, manually turning on the emergency heat makes the system work entirely using the electric resistance heating elements in the indoor air handlers. This is less energy efficient, and your energy bills will increase.

3. Keep the Air Filters Clean

The filters keep the air flowing through your heat pump free of dirt, pet dander and other air pollutants. After some time, it may become clogged with the filtered particles and limit airflow or allow some particles to flow into the system. The heat pump will have to work harder to circulate air. This strain can lead to overheating and premature wear and tear of the components. It will fail to operate at its designed capacity and use excess energy to maintain a comfortable living environment.

You need to check the condition of the air filter regularly and change it every one to three months. You can clean air filters when they appear visibly dirty, when you notice unusual smells from the heat pump or when the vents have reduced airflow. Different air filters are on the market based on Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). This value goes up to 16; the higher the value, the finer the filtration. For most homes, a MERV of 8 to 13 will do a good job of filtering pollutants from the air.

4. Ensure Regular System Maintenance

Regular maintenance can keep your heat pump operating optimally. A professional will diagnose issues in your system that may compromise efficiency and fix them before they escalate. A heat pump relies on refrigerant to transfer heat. Sometimes, the system may have low refrigerant levels. This makes it hard for the heat pump to reach the desired temperature. It may thus run longer and use more energy. It may also have more cycles than usual and strain the components. Since heat pumps do not consume refrigerant, their low levels are often due to system leakages. During regular maintenance, the technician looks for the sources of leaks and fixes them, then refrigerates the system adequately.

After periods of use, dust or grime can build up on the heat pump coils and interfere with heat transfer; the system has to work harder to transfer heat effectively. Regular maintenance ensures the system is kept clean to improve efficiency and lengthen its lifespan.

5. Proper System Size

Most homeowners think the bigger the heat pump, the higher the value it will offer. However, you must have the right heat pump size for your home for maximum efficiency. An oversized system heats the house fast and turns off. Some corners in rooms may fail to get to the desired temperature. An undersized unit struggles to meet the temperature demand. It operates longer than it should, causing premature wear and tear and consuming more energy.

The square footage of the space you want to heat determines the correct heat pump size. Exclude the areas within the property that you do not wish to condition. The insulation level also influences the size of the heat pump you will need. A properly insulated house has reduced heat loss, and a smaller system can adequately heat it. The size of a heat pump is expressed in British Thermal Units (BTUs).

6. Proper Installation

The quality of heat pump installation affects its efficiency. For instance, placing the external unit far from the property allows for heat loss on the way. Placing in enclosed spaces limits airflow, and the unit will struggle to get enough heat energy from the air. Allow at least 2 feet of clear space around the unit. Remove debris and trim trees and bushes for optimal airflow. Also, contact a professional for the installation process for quality services. Mistakes during installation may damage the system or turn off energy-saving settings such as weather compensation.

7. Building Insulation and Weatherization

You can leverage weatherization, the process of modifying your building to enhance the energy efficiency of your heating system. You can employ measures like air sealing or increasing the thickness of the insulation. This can help reduce energy consumption by up to 18%.

The cracks and gaps around the doors and windows allow warm air to leak out and cold air to move into the house. You can use caulk or foam to seal these gaps. Replace outdated structures to prevent the heat pump from overworking to deliver the desired temperature. You can use different insulation types on your house, including fiberglass, cellulose, foam and rock wool.

Lightfoot Mechanical is a heating and cooling company serving residents in Weatherford, TX. We have been a plumbing and electrical services provider since 1983, so you can be confident we will offer high-quality services. You can contact our team whenever you need electrical, plumbing or HVAC system installation, replacement or repair. We are available 24/7, so you get reliable services in an emergency.

When you want to install a heat pump or need guidance on more ways to maximize the efficiency of your heating system, talk to our HVAC professionals at Lightfoot Mechanical.

Meet the Author
Gary Lightfoot

With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Gary Lightfoot took over his family business and continues to run it with the values and standards set 35 years ago

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