Cut On Heating Costs With a Heat Pump

by Dave The Handyman on April 9, 2011

Heat pumps are great for cooling your home, and also heating your home, as they are apart of the central air conditioning and heating system. I have explained how refrigerant such as R-22 or 410A is used to cool the home, but with a heat pump, the same technology is used to actually heat the home. Basically what happens, is when you call for heat, there is a reversing valve that is inside of the condensing unit, that will reverse the refrigeration cycle, and then the outside unit becomes the evaporator coil and the inside unit becomes the condensing unit, well kind of.

There are two types of heat pumps, ones that use the outside air to heat the home, and then there are geothermal heat pumps, which are much more efficient at heating, and much cheaper to run also, but the initial cost to get them installed is extremely pricy, as you will need an underground water source used as a heating medium.

In most central heating and cooling systems that use a heat pump, you will also have a heating element that is inside of the air handler, this is known as emergency heat, and will kick in when the outside air is so cold that it will no longer be an efficient heating medium to keep the inside of your home warm.

What Temperature Do Heat Pumps Stop Working?

Every single HVAC technician will have a different opinion about this, and most say that they start to lose their efficiency at around 32 degrees, and to switch to emergency heat when the temperature drops below 20 degrees. But the best way to answer this question, would be to get the model number of your heat pump, and call the manufacturer, and ask them when should be the best temperature to switch to emergency heat. Some heat pumps come pre installed with a thermostat, that will shut the compressor off when the outside temperature reaches a certain degree, and automatically kick in the emergency heat. If you do not have one of these or are unsure, it is a question that you could ask your Hvac technician next time you get your annual preventive maintenance done, and YOU are getting maintenance on your heat pump done aren’t you?

How Do Heat Pumps Save Money On Heat?

When it is not so cold out, as mentioned above, heat pumps can save you money, because running the compressor uses less energy than the electric heating elements do. Depending on what size heating elements you have, and how big your home is, electric heaters can run up to 3 times more amps than your compressor does. So are you in a area that gets moderately cold, is a heat pump the right choice for your home?

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