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September 2021

Is Your Heat Pump Costing You More Than It Should? What To Do Now

BiTemp heating and cooling in Belleville, Ontario, offers installation, service and repair for all HVAC system equipment, including heat pump technology.

Is Your Heat Pump Costing You More Than It Should? What To Do Now

Heat pump technology is not new. But as climate change continues to produce summer heat waves, more people are choosing heat pumps for their air conditioner needs.

Heat pumps provide an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional forced air heating and air conditioning. 

The heat pump can also deliver up to 100 percent energy efficiency when properly installed.

But not every heat pump is able to do its job as well as it could. In this post, we explain what reduces heat pump efficiency and how to fix it.


What Is A Heat Pump?

Heat pumps are an HVAC system that works by moving heat around

There are two terms you need to know if you want to maximize heat pump efficiency and save money on your energy bills.

These two terms are heat source and heat sink.

The heat source is the place where the heat energy comes from. The most common source is air, but heat pumps can also extract heat energy from the water or the earth (geothermal).

The heat sink is the destination for that heat energy. A heat sink is always a higher temperature than the heat source.

The transfer of heat energy from source to sink is accomplished with the use of a pump - hence the name of the technology, "heat pump."


How a Heat Pump Heats and Cools Your Space

Now that you understand where the heat energy comes from and where it is headed, let's tackle the question of how a heat pump does its job year-round.

How does a heat pump heat your home in winter and cool your home in summer?

It accomplishes this by changing the location of the heat sink, the higher temperature destination.

In the winter, the home is the sink. So the heat pump pumps the heat energy into your home, providing heating all winter long.

In the summer, the home is the source. Here, the heat pump pumps the heat energy out of your home, lowering the indoor temperature and keeping you cool.


How Do You Lose Efficiency With a Heat Pump?

With these basics in mind, we can turn to the question of the two most common places where heat pumps loose efficiency and cost more to operate.

1. Source to sink temperature difference.

The first place a heat pump can lose efficiency is the least well known, but also the most common.

It is important to choose the right size heat pump for the size of your space and to choose the heat source and heat sink locations with care.

This is especially critical with air-to-air heat pumps, which are the most common heat pumps here in Canada.

When there is a large temperature difference between the heat source and the heat sink, this is when your heat pump will have to work harder to transfer the heat and lose efficiency.

This also means it will cost you more money to operate your heat pump.

2. Using the electric backup heat source.

The second and more obvious (at least on your monthly power bills) cause of efficiency loss is choosing to use the built-in electric supplemental furnace included with many heat pumps.

Heat pumps are not designed to function effectively when temperatures dip below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.7 Celsius). This is why some heat pumps come with an inbuilt supplemental electric furnace that is extremely expensive to operate.

To save your wallet, you will want to consider adding a dual fuel (natural gas or propane) emergency backup heat source for those few days when temperatures really plunge.

Alternatively, some newer heat pumps feature a hybrid system that can work with a heating boiler or dual fuel furnace.

Tips for Correcting Heat Pump Efficiency Losses

There are a number of adjustments that can be made to improve heat pump efficiency and maximize energy and cost savings.

Unless you are familiar with heat pump installation and maintenance, you will want to have your Bi-Temp service technician take care of these adjustments for you.

1. Change heat pump fan settings seasonally.

In the winter, using the heat pump's auto or high fan setting will boost heat delivery. In the summer, a low heat pump fan setting will support increased cooling and better humidity control.

2. Change the direction of heat pump airflow seasonally.

Changing the direction of airflow from vents can increase comfort. Summer airflow should be directed at the room occupants. Winter airflow should be directed down into the room.

3. Adjust your heat pump defrost settings.

Make use of the demand setting (if applicable) to reduce the number of defrost cycles. Turning off the inside fan can also help reduce energy use during defrost cycles.

4. Ensure appropriate temperature set point for supplemental heat.

The ideal set point for the supplemental heat source to turn on is within 2 to 3 degrees of your heat pump set point.

5. Install a programmable smart thermostat for your heat pump.

Not only will the use of a programmable smart thermostat keep you from heating or air conditioning  an empty home, but it can also help you anticipate severe weather and extreme short-term temperature shifts that cost you money.

6. Do not neglect routine heat pump preventative maintenance and tune-up service.

A well-maintained heat pump is an efficient heat pump. You want to be sure to change air filters regularly and clean major components like the compressor and coils.


Contact Bi-Temp Heating and Cooling in Belleville, Ontario

Bi-Temp Heating and Cooling in Belleville, Ontario, has spent nearly a half-century serving the HVAC needs of the greater Quinte West and surrounding areas.

Discover the Bi-Temp difference! Our highly trained, prompt, polite and skilled service technicians are trained to install, service and repair all makes and models of HVAC system equipment, including all types of heat pumps.

Give us a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online for all your heating, ventilation and air conditioner needs.

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