Heat Pump Thermostats

Homeowners are always looking for a way to reduce their energy consumption either to do their part for the environment or just to save money on their utility bills.  Installing an energy saving thermostat called a set-back thermostat or programmable thermostat is a popular alternative for energy conscious homeowners.  These thermostats can be programmed to raise or lower the temperature setting in your home to cut down on energy costs at night and while the house sits empty during the day. 

Programmable thermostats are an excellent energy saving alternative for many types of home heating and cooling systems, but if your home is heated and cooled with a heat pump, you should probably think twice before investing in a programmable thermostat.  You may not see much of a savings when your heat pump is operating in the heat mode, and it’s even possible that you could end up using more energy to heat your home rather than saving energy.

A heat pump works just like a central air conditioning system in the summer and a programmable thermostat will produce a similar energy savings when the heat pump is operating in cooling mode.  However, when the heat pump is operating in heating mode, it is very energy efficient but slow to respond to changes in your thermostat temperature setting. 

When your programmable thermostat calls for a sudden increase in the temperature, most heat pumps use expensive electric auxiliary heating strips to meet the sudden demand for heat.  The result is a quick increase in the temperature, but the high energy use of the auxiliary heating strips will wipe out and energy savings from the programmable thermostat.

For energy efficient heating with a  heat pump, most experts agree that the best policy regarding the thermostat is to “set it and forget it.”  You can still save on your air conditioning costs using a programmable thermostat with your heat pump, but the savings from just the air conditioning may not be enough to offset the cost of the thermostat.

Posted on behalf of James Smith, ClimateSmith LLC


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