Benefits of Owning a Heat Pump

If you are considering upgrading your HVAC system, you may have wondered whether a heat pump could have advantages over a traditional heating and air conditioning system. Of course, air quality and comfort are important, so you want to ensure that the system you choose will give you and your family the environment you prefer. Here are some benefits that heat pumps offer to help you determine if this system would be a better choice for your home.

  • Energy efficiency. Heat pumps can offer savings on your energy bill. Heating costs can be reduced by up to 40% versus electrically heat.
  • Safe surfaces. Heat pumps do not create hot surfaces that can create an unsafe environment. This reduces fire hazards and burn possibilities for small children or pets.
  • Environmentally-friendly. Heat pumps do not use fuels that can harm the environment – no gas, wood, smoke or oils, just a transfer of air to heat or cool your home.
  • Lower humidity. The transfer of air allows for better control of humidity in your home. The air is automatically circulated and excess moisture in the air is collected in the unit as it passes through, draining outside to keep humidity levels low.
  • Temperature control. Heat pumps can bring in warm air or work in reverse to release warm air for temperature control. Use automatic settings to control when the pump is turned on for better energy efficiency.

Heat pumps are great for mild climates when winters are not too severe and summer heat is not overbearing. To learn more about the benefits of heat pumps and to determine if they are a good fit for your home, talk to your local HVAC service provider.

Posted on behalf of:
Western Aire Heating & Cooling
Marietta, GA 30066
(770) 505-7426

Are You Ready for Another Hot Summer?

Winter is finally over and what a winter it was! Most of the country experienced record-breaking winter storms that chilled even the warmest regions. Now summer is on the way and it can only be assumed that hot temperatures will plague many areas. If your home still does not have a reliable air conditioning system, now is the time to invest in the comfort of a cool whole.

Home Cooling Options

Beyond the small, inefficient window air conditioners, you have a few choices for whole home air conditioning. Units vary in cost from only a few thousand dollars up to $12,000 or more. These systems usually last for at least 10 years, longer when properly maintained.

If you are ready to either add an air conditioner to your home or replace an old model, here are some of the options available:

–          Central air conditioning. Centralized air conditioning is the most common option used in hot regions for cooling an entire home. These systems require ductwork, usually linked in with the heating system.

–          Heat pumps. Although heat pumps also dual as a heat source, they are efficient and effective for cooling homes. Heat pumps can be connected to duct work or work from a stationary area, with the unit installed on the exterior of the home.

In both centralized air conditioning and heat pumps, you want a unit that is sized correctly for your home and has a high SEER (energy efficiency score). To determine what is the best option for your cooling needs and budget, talk to your local HVAC service provided. They can evaluate your home and offer you choices on the right cooling system for your needs.

Posted on behalf of:
ClimateSmith, LLC
Alpharetta, GA
(770) 475-9555

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


Frequently Asked Heat Pump Questions

Whether your home is already equipped with a heat pump, or you are considering getting one, you’ll find the following questions and answers helpful.

Is Annual Heat Pump Maintenance Important?

To keep your heat pump working safely and effectively, yearly scheduled maintenance is very important. Your heat pumps’ outdoor coils need cleaning no less than once each year. Additionally, be sure to have its electrical system inspected.

Proper maintenance helps to ensure your heat pump performs efficiently. Maintenance cuts down on the quantity and costs of future repairs.  In addition, annual heat pump maintenance results in the extended life of the system.

How do heat pumps provide heating and cooling?

Heat pumps absorb heat and transfer it from one place (location) to another.

Therefore, during the summer season, heat pumps work like air conditioners. Heat from inside your home is absorbed using refrigerant, and then it is vented outside in order to maintain a cool home.

This process is reversed during the winter season. Warmth from outside is absorbed and transferred into the home. A heat pump is ideal for effectively heating your home while temperatures outside remain above freezing.

With some heat pumps, why does it sound like my furnace is running?

Most heat humps distribute air throughout your home by making use of your furnace’s fan. In addition, heat pumps use your furnace as a backup source of heat when temperatures drop below freezing. In such instances, your heat pump is assisted by your furnace to achieve the desired temperature in your home.

For more information about heat pumps, contact your local heating and air-conditioning service company.

Posted on behalf of James Smith, ClimateSmith LLC


The Different Kinds of Heat Pumps

The most common type of heat pump used is an “air source heat pump,” which moves or transfers heat from inside your house to the air outside of it. For those homes without ducts for channeling air, there are also ductless air source heat pumps available. These are called “a mini-split heat pumps.” There is also a special kind of air source heat pump called a “reverse cycle chiller.” The reverse chiller uses hot and cold water as opposed to hot and cold air. This allows the unit to use radiant floor heating systems while being used as a central heater. 

A new type of heat pump for homes and residences is called an “absorption heat pump” (it’s also sometimes called a “gas fired heat pump”). Absorption heat pumps take advantage of heat as their primary source of energy, which allows them to be driven by a wide variety of power sources. 

“Geothermal heat pumps” use naturally occurring heat from either a ground- or water-based source within the earth. Although the installation costs are much higher, geothermal heat pumps have low operating costs by comparison. This is because they make use of constant ground or water temperatures to power the unit, as opposed to electricity or other power source. A geothermal pump is therefore highly efficient as it transfers heat between your house and the ground or a nearby water source. Whether a geothermal heat pump is appropriate for your home will depend on the size of your lot and its surrounding area, as well as the landscape and soil your foundation sits on. Customer satisfaction with geothermal systems is generally pretty high, as these units can be used in more extreme conditions than normal air source heat pumps.

How a Heat Pump Works

Heat pumps are an energy-efficient alternative to air conditioners or furnaces, and are primarily used for climates that need moderate heating or cooling. But most people aren’t aware of just how heat pumps work. 

Heat pumps use electricity like a refrigerator, in order to make a cool space even cooler, and a warm space warmer, as the pump moves heat out of a cool space and into a warm space. Because they simply move heat rather generating it, heat pumps are able to put out up to 4 times the amount of energy that the pumps consume. If you use electricity to power your heat pump, it can cut down on the electricity you use to heat or cool your home by 30% to 40% when used on a regular basis. 

In the wintertime, heat pumps draw heat from the cool outdoors into your warm house, while in the hot summertime, it expels heat from your house into the warmer outdoors. Heat pumps are highly efficient, and they dehumidify the air in your home better than the more common central air conditioners used by most homes. Using a heat pump also requires less energy and can make your house cooler in the summer months. However, the efficiency of most air-source heat pumps as a heat source drops dramatically at low temperatures, generally making them unsuitable for cold climates, although there are systems that can overcome the problem. 

Making the choice of a heat pump for your home is an important one, something that you should discuss with your HVAC contractor in order to make the best selection for your needs and those of your family.

Money Saving Home Heating Tips

Are you tired of high energy bills for heating your home?  There is no reason to put up with high energy bills for another year.  There are many energy efficient home heating options on the market including high efficiency furnaces and heat pumps that are much more efficient than those sold 15 years ago.  If you have an older model furnace or heat pump in your home, replacing it with a new high efficiency furnace or heat pump will save you a bundle.  Your new furnace may even pay for itself in less than 10 years.

If you already have an energy efficient heat pump or furnace, look around your home for sources of heat loss and air leakage.  Folding attic stairs are a commonly overlooked source of heat loss.  Since there is no insulation at the attic stairs, heat can leak out into your attic especially if the door is not sealed properly.  You can install an attic stair cover that will eliminate this problem.

Fireplace dampers are another overlooked source of heat loss.  Leaving your fireplace damper open in the winter is almost the same as leaving a window open and can drive up your heating costs by as much as 20% to 30%.  At a minimum, close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.  Better yet, install a draft stopper to further reduce heat loss through the fireplace.

Dryer vents typically just have a thin uninsulated metal flap to reduce air leakage.  Not only does this flap allow heat to escape, it is often stuck open by lint allowing warm air to flow out of your home.  An easy and inexpensive solution is to install a dryer vent seal.

Heat Pump Misconceptions

When it’s time to replace your old heating and air conditioning system, don’t overlook heat pumps as an energy efficient alternative to a central air conditioning system coupled with a traditional gas or oil fired furnace.  Many homeowners don’t even consider installing a heat pump because they have heard that heat pumps are unreliable and heat poorly, especially in temperatures below freezing.

These misconceptions are based on heat pump systems that were marketed twenty and thirty years ago.  When heat pumps were first introduced to the residential heating and air conditioning market during the energy crisis of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, they had some problems that earned them a poor reputation.

A heat pump is essentially a central air conditioner that can operate in reverse.  In air conditioning mode it absorbs heat from inside the home and moves it outside the home.  In heat mode, the cycle is reversed.  Early residential heat pumps were rushed to market during the energy crises and used standard modified air conditioner compressors that were not robust enough to handle this double duty and as a consequence, compressor failures and other breakdowns were common.

As the years went by, it became clear that heat pumps were far more energy efficient than a traditional furnace and manufacturers set about making them more reliable.  As a result, modern heat pumps are equipped with compressors and other components specifically designed to withstand the demands place on them by a heat pump.  Modern heat pumps are not only the most energy efficient home heating system on the market, but they are every bit as dependable as a central air conditioning system or furnace.

Talk to your heating and air conditioning contractor about whether an energy efficient heat pump makes sense for your home.

Heat Pump Negatives

Heat Pumps are an energy efficient way to heat and cool your home.  Heat pumps operate just like a central air conditioning system to cool you home and work in reverse to heat your heat.  Because a heat pump uses electricity to move heat instead of creating heat, it can operate more efficiently and less expensively than most furnaces.

However, heat pumps do have a few drawbacks to consider before you make the investment in a new system.  The main concern about a heat pump is that its ability to heat efficiently is reduced at lower temperatures.  This used to be a bigger problem than it is today.  Advances in heat pump technology have made heat pumps effective and efficient in temperatures around freezing.

They can also heat your home in occasional periods of below freezing temperatures, but they lose some of their efficiency advantage. Supplemental electric heating elements can be added to a heat pump to help in these occasional low temperatures, but when operating in supplemental heat mode a heat pump loses most of its efficiency advantage.

If you live in an area that gets consistent and sustained temperatures below freezing, a heat pump may not be the best choice for winter home heating.  However, some homeowners use a heat pump for summer air conditioning and energy efficient spring and fall heating before turning on the furnace for heating during the coldest months.

Since heat pumps handle both heating and cooling, they run throughout the year which leads to concerns that they may wear out sooner than separate air conditioning and heating units.  This is probably true, however they last so long that the problem is negligible.  After 15 to 20 years of service, it is probably time to be shopping for a newer, more efficient system anyway.

A reputable local HVAC contractor who handles heat pump installation and repair can install a great new energy efficient heat pump in your home.

Cool Climate Heat Pumps

A heat pump is an energy efficient home heating and cooling alternative.  A heat pump is essentially a central air conditioning system that is equipped to operate in reverse during the winter.  A heat pump’s efficiency is based on the fact that it moves heat from place to place rather than creating heat.  In the summer, it moves heat from inside your home to the outside and in the winter, it takes heat from outside your home and moves it inside.

It may sound counterintuitive, but a heat pump can extract heat from cold air although its efficiency suffers at temperatures below freezing.  For this reason, heat pumps have generally been considered best suited for moderate climates.

However, if you are replacing your heating or cooling system, talk to your HVAC contractor about whether a heat pump would be a good alternative for you.  Recent technological advances have made heat pumps more efficient at lower temperatures so they are suitable for more areas than in the past.

Also, heat pumps can be equipped with supplemental heating strips that improve heating ability at lower temperatures.  In addition, a heat pump can be combined with other heating methods such as a radiant floor heating system, geothermal heating system, solar heating or other alternative heating system.

Some homeowners use a heat pump to heat in the fall and spring before switching to a conventional gas or oil furnace for the coldest months.  Whether a heat pump makes sense for you will depend on your unique situation and the relative cost of electricity in your area.  A reputable HVAC contractor that handles heat pump installation and repair can help you decide if a heat pump is right for you.