Maximizing Heat Pump Efficiency in Winter

January 4, 2024
Maximizing Heat Pump Efficiency in Winter

A heat pump is a device that transfers energy from one area to another in order to warm up a designated space. During the winter, a heat pump can function as a heater that extracts warmth from sources outside and transfers it inside the home. In the summer, this process reverses and can transfer heat outside in the same way that an air conditioner cools down the home. Because heat pumps move heat instead of generating it, the operational costs are often significantly lower than traditional heating methods. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), modern heat pump models can reduce energy costs by up to 50%. While a heat pump is one of the most energy-efficient ways to warm up a household, this appliance may need to run longer during the winter to maintain desired temperatures in the home. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to optimize your device. A look at the best ways to maximize heat pump efficiency can help you make the most of this technology and ensure a comfortable home.

Avoid Extreme Temperature Settings

While it may feel tempting to crank up the temperature of your heat pump during the winter, this action will not necessarily make the home more comfortable. Heat pumps operate most efficiently when set to moderate temperatures for consistent periods of time. If you set your heat pump to the extreme temperature 95 degrees Fahrenheit, for example, the device will run for shorter periods of time while using excessive energy to raise the temperature to desired levels. This can cause higher utility bills as well as increase the risk of wear and tear. Rather than turning up the dial, consider setting the heat pump to 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal operation. You may also consider installing programmable or smart thermostats that gradually increase warm the room 15-minute increments in order to conserve power and improve efficiency.

Avoid Using the Emergency Heating Mode

Most heat pump models come equipped with an emergency heating setting. This function can bypass the standard heat pump settings and draw heat from backup sources like gas furnaces. The purpose of the emergency heating mode is to provide a stand-in or substitute during unforeseen circumstances like subzero temperatures or equipment breakdowns. Relying on the emergency heating mode longer than necessary can increase your power consumption and cause a spike in energy bills. While some emergencies are outside of a homeowner’s control, routine heat pump maintenance promote proper function and help identify minor problems before they turn into major dysfunction.

Keep the Filter Clean

Every heat pump has a filter for capturing unwanted debris, contaminants, and pollutants. It is imperative to keep this filter clean. A clogged or dirty filter can restrict airflow and reduce the efficiency of your device. As a result, the heat pump when then need to work harder to warm up the household. This leads to greater power consumption and higher energy bills. The excess strain on your heat pump also wears down components and can shorter the overall lifespan of this appliance. This can lead to costly repairs or premature appliance replacement. In addition, dirty air filters can have a detrimental impact on indoor air quality (IAQ) by allowing dirt and other airborne particles to disperse throughout the home. These airborne pollutants can act as allergens that exacerbate respiratory issues. If you suspect problems with your filter, reach out to a heating professional to ensure that you have the correct size and to identify if the filter needs replacement.

Clean the Area Around the Outdoor Unit

Heat pumps draw thermal energy from three types of sources: air, water, or ground. As a result, each type of heat pump has an outdoor unit. After pulling energy from air-source, water-source, or ground-source areas, the outdoor unit transfers the heat into your home. Each outdoor unit needs plenty of space and sufficient airflow to perform its function effectively. Any blockage from plants, dirt, or debris can prevent the unit from moving thermal warmth into the home. Experts recommend allowing at least two feet of space or clearance around the unit to facilitate proper function. If debris or contaminants have already entered the unit and impeding function, a technician can perform tasks like removing dirt from coils so that the pump can work properly again.

Never Cover the Unit

All heat pumps need plenty of space and airflow to function correctly. For this reason, you should never attempt to cover the unit with a hood or shelter the winter. Using a cover can prevent ventilation and cause problems like mold or mildew growth, hardware oxidation, and pest infestation. Even if the weather drops to freezing, you should never attempt to scrape snow or ice off the unit. Using tools on the sides of the heat pump can damage the fragile fins and require a complete system replacement. By design, heat pumps work equally well during the winter and have a defrost mode. This defrost mode helps to safely remove ice during frigid weather without damaging your unit.

Avoid Overusing the Defrost Mode

While the defrost mode is a wonderful feature to use after snowstorms or on the coldest days of the year, you should never attempt to use this mode on a long-term basis. The defrost setting works by drawing energy to melt ice or frost buildup on your unit’s outdoor coils. If you leave this setting on for too long or try to switch back and forth from defrost to default, you may notice a spike in power consumption and receive higher energy bills. Constantly using the defrost mode can also strain the unit’s internal components and shorten its life expectancy. The strain of this mode can eventually stop the indoor blower from doing its job of keeping your house warm. If you have an automated system and notice that your unit keeps switching to defrost mode all winter long, reach out to an HVAC technician to fix this error.

Avoid Auto Mode

Standard heat pumps have three modular settings: auto, heat, and cool. Experts recommend leaving the heat pump on the “heat” setting during the winter and the “cool” setting during the summer. Leaving the unit on “auto” can cause it to unnecessarily toggle between heating and cooling. Remember that heat pumps extract thermal energy from outdoor sources and transfer this energy indoors during the winter. The process reverses during the summer and expels the warm air outside instead. Using the appropriate modes of “heat” or “cool” can ensure that the unit works correctly in each season.

Optimize Fan Speed

Heat pumps also have a separate “auto fan” setting or mode. Experts recommend starting with this setting to optimize fan speed. If this speed does not spread warm or cool air far enough, gradually adjust the speed until it fits your household’s needs.

Optimize Airflow Direction

It is simple to redirect the airflow from a heat pump. To optimize airflow, redirect toward open spaces in the home that are farthest away from the indoor appliance. You should also remove any obstructions blocking the indoor unit.

Follow a Regular Professional Maintenance Schedule

The most crucial step in maximizing the efficiency of your heat pump is to schedule consistent professional maintenance. A trained technician can clean the unit to ensure optimal performance and fix small problems to prevent unexpected breakdowns. Tasks completed during a professional maintenance session can include inspecting outdoor coils, checking refrigerant levels, inspecting electrical connections, and lubricating internal parts. In addition to the standard tasks, the technician may also clean or replace cartridges, check the drainage system, and repair or replace the fan as needed. You should never attempt to perform these tasks yourself since errors can lead to exposure to harmful chemicals or cause unintentional damage to the unit.

Contact Us Today

Using a heat pump is an energy-efficient option for keeping your home warm during the winter. Get the most out of your heat pump with professional maintenance and care. C & C Heating & Air Conditioning offers heat pump services for Macomb County, Detroit, and surrounding areas. Our technicians are familiar with all models of heat pumps and can repair your existing unit or install a new one. In addition, we also offer other heating services such as furnace installation, maintenance, or repairs. Reach out to our experts for duct cleaning or to explore ductless system options. We can install smart thermostats as well as assess your indoor air quality. Contact C & C Heating & Air Conditioning today for all heating system needs.

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