Heat Pumps. What are they and what benefits do I stand to gain?These are common questions many individuals have upon hearing of these devices. Here, it is important to note that the word ‘heat’ can be somewhat misleading; heat pump systems perform many more functions than simply warming up your home. With the added capability of meeting your cooling and hot water requirements, these devices bring a multiple of basic household amenities under its control.
Our blog this week dives into the key features of this system, providing a comprehensive buying guide for those planning to make it a part of their arsenal of home hardware.
Types of heat pumps
First off, it’s important to note the differences between the types of heat pumps available. Air-source devices, split-ductless systems, and geothermal devices, are the three primary heat pump systems homeowners are privy to, on the market.
Air-source systems, are those that draw in their energy from the ambient environment outside. By absorbing the heat in the air, owners experience a reduction in heating costs by around 50%.
These commonly possess an indoor unit and an outdoor unit and are even functional in colder weather.
Geothermal heat pump systems are those that move heat through a series of pipes that are buried underground. Heated by the temperature present below the surface, this system requires little maintenance, are long-lasting, and quite effective in extreme climates.
Split-ductless systems also possess an outdoor compressor and between 1-4 indoor air handlers. These devices don’t require ducts and are, therefore, ideal for single-room additions, as well as for homes without ducts. While the cost of installing this type of system is a little higher than those above, federal incentives can often make these quite affordable.
Newer technology on the market has meant that heat pumps now work efficiently in a number of areas, especially those that don’t experience extreme temperature fluctuations. These devices are most effective, however, for moderate heating and cooling purposes. Thus, if you live in a very cold or very warm climate, you might need additional devices to support this system. Certain heat pumps, such as the Trinity Multifunction Heat Pump, operates between working temperatures of -10 ̊C to 45 ̊C.
The efficiency of air-source pumps and the ductless-split system depend on its cooling and heating efficiency. For the former, it is through the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), that cooling efficiency is measured. For the latter, the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) is the standard unit.
In a warmer climate, a high SEER is an important factor to look into. It is the reverse for homes in a cold climate, where a higher HSPF is more desirable. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, heat pump systems that come with 15 SEER and 8.5 HSPF are those that are most efficient for your home.
For geothermal pumps, on the other hand, cooling efficiency is measured through the EER, Energy Efficiency Ratio, and its heating, through the Coefficient of Performance (COP).
As would seem evident, the higher the efficiency of your system of choice, the more it’s going to cost you. What’s important to remember here is that the initial cost incurred, is often repaid many times over in terms of increased savings, over the lifetime of your device.
Sizing - basically, the bigger your heat pump is, the better. However, as size increases, so does your purchase and installation costs. It’s best, therefore, to pick an appropriately sized pump, taking into account the size of your home and your budget.
Energy efficiency of your home - installing a heat pump system alone won’t ensure maximum energy savings. Before you get your devices in place, it’s important to make sure your home operates efficiently by default. This will enable you to buy a smaller device, saving you from further expense. Some of the steps you can take include:
- Insulating your walls and attic
- Add weather stripping around doors and cauls around windows
- Properly sealing ductwork in and around your home
- Installing a programmable thermostat, which will automatically raise and lower temperature as required. These devices can help you save an additional 10% on your annual energy bills.
Heat pumps are undeniably the hardware of the future. More than just its cost-saving capabilities and enhanced energy efficiency, these devices are also great on the environment; increasing the air quality of the city you live in.
Before making your purchase, however, ensure that you’ve done your research into these devices and their requirements. The secret to leveraging this technology to your advantage is in making the right pick and preparing your home for cost-effective comfort.