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Friday, December 17, 2010

Heat Pump FAQ

In this blog I just wanted to address the most common questions we get here at Environmental Heating & Air in regards to heat pumps....

How exactly does a heat pump work?  An electric heat pump is a single unit that both heats and cools your home. A heat pump is the most efficient heating and cooling system available today because it generates less than one unit of heat for each unit of energy it consumes.  In summer, it moves heat from inside your house to the outside.  In winter, it moves heat from the air outside to inside your home.  This is done using the refrigerant that is pumped by the compressor through the indoor and outdoor coils.

Do I need a supplemental heating system with an electric heat pump?  An electric heat pump operates most efficiently at temperatures above the low 30's.  When temperatures dip below that, some supplemental heat is required.  Which is where the heat strips come in, these are spring like coils that are heated by electricity and are located by the blower.  Heat strips are used in a heat pump system to assist in heating when the temperatures drop to the lower 30's and below.

Is it true that heat pumps will not get my home as warm as a gas furnace?  Some people think this is true, but actually what a heat pump does is keep the room temperature more constant than a gas furnace, so you're more comfortable all the time.  With gas furnaces, a lot of people find themselves being too hot or too cold quite often, whereas a heat pump corrects this problem by maintaining a more constant temperature.

If it maintains a more constant temperature, doesn't that mean it runs more often than a gas furnace?  Yes a heat pump does tend to run more often but you have to realize that it produces two to three units of heat for each unit of energy it uses (compared to less than one unit of heat from a gas furnace), so you end up with significant savings at the end of the month.
Well if it runs longer and during the winter and summer months, doesn't it wear out sooner?  Not really, heat pumps have basically the same life expectancy as a regular air conditioner with a gas furnace.  The difference in service life is very little, if at all.  Even the Gas Research Institute admitted recently that "As the efficiency of heat pumps is increased, their anticipated life increases as well."



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