Heat Pump Care and Facts

Heat Pump Care and Facts


When it comes to owning a home, there are many things a homeowner can do to improve the quality of life around the house. Monitoring the heating and cooling system can go a long way towards not only improving comfort, but saving money as well. The following are tips on how to better care for and monitor your home’s heat pump.

Take Time To Understand How Your Heat Pump Works.

There are two parts to heat pump installations. This is commonly referred to as a split system. There is an outdoor unit containing the compressor and a coil, also called a heat exchanger. The indoor unit is comprised of a few more parts. These include another coil, grille, electric heating elements, and of course, a fan that blows air through your duct system. The indoor and outdoor units are connected by copper tubes. Within these tubes, a gas refrigerant is moved between the outdoor and indoor coils. Even at the lowest of temperatures, this refrigerant (such as freon) is capable of absorbing heat from the air.

In the wintertime, air is drawn across the outdoor coil and the refrigerant absorbs heat. While already hot, the refrigerant becomes even hotter when it goes through the compressor. The hot gas then moves to the indoor coil via copper tubing. This is where the rest of the parts mentioned earlier come into play. As the air is drawn through your return grille by the fan, it is then pushed across the indoor coil. The hot gas transfers its heat to the air blown across the coil and into the duct system.

When the outdoor air temperature drops below the freezing mark, some heat pumps need assistance.

During these more severe weather conditions, the electric heating elements will come on automatically to assist. Many thermostats have a light to indicate that the electric heating is running. They are usually labeled in one of two ways: auxiliary or emergency. Usually, these lights should only appear during very cold days.

Lowering your thermostat temp will not only conserve energy, it will also save you money. Be careful though, as you could use more energy if you frequently change your settings. It is usually best to only adjust your thermostat one degree at a time. Your electric back-up heat will begin to run if you change the temperature by more than one degree, and that will mean you are more than likely wasting energy.

Don’t Forget About Your Air Filters.

The most neglected part of the heat pump is also the most important to keep up with – the air filter. This causes many high electric bills! When properly functioning, air filters collect pollutants and particles that can end up clogging your indoor coil. Not changing or cleaning your air filter means that you’ll run the risk of substantially increasing energy usage. This will not only reduce your comfort, but it could also cause damage to your HVAC equipment! It is an excellent idea to replace or clean your air filters every four to six weeks.

Make Sure Your Air Is Flowing Properly.

Another component to ensuring efficient heat pump operation is air flow. Closing off more than ten percent of the registers in your home will disturb this process. It’s also good to check to make sure that no registers are blocked. Not only is air flow important indoors, it is also important outdoors as well. Keep your outdoor unit clear from shrubbery, grass and leaves.

Monitor Your Equipment.

While it is totally fine for you to change the air filters for your system, all other servicing should be performed by your qualified HVAC tech. When you experience any of the following, give your local heating and cooling contractor a call: a) the indicator light on your thermostat is always on, b) no air flow from your registers, c) unusual noise coming from your equipment, d) your outdoor unit continuously iced over, or e) your equipment running constantly in “good” weather.

Coming Back After a Power Outage.

If you experience a power outage for more than 30 minutes, switch over to emergency heat on your thermostat. When electricity returns, the heating system will run for approximately one hour in this mode. This setting allows the refrigerant that may be in the compressor to be warmed up by the compressor heater. Then, just allow an hour to go by and then switch back to normal heating (this is not required on a lot of the newer heat pumps out there, so consult your local heating contractor to know the required steps for your equipment).

In the end, practicing these measures will not only increase the comfort of your home, but they’ll also save you money!



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