The Homeowner’s Guide to Heat Pumps
As consumers have become more concerned with energy efficiency, heat pumps
have soared in popularity due to their money-saving efficiency.
However, most consumers are still in the dark when it comes to the details
behind heat pumps. Although they are highly efficient, there are several
details to take into consideration as you consider adding a heat pump
to your home's HVAC setup.
Is a Heat Pump the Right Choice for You?
Before you spend too much time researching heat pumps, it's important
for you to be sure that a heat pump is right for your home and climate.
First, if you live in an especially cold climate, a heat pump may not be
your best choice. Since standard heat pumps move hot air rather than generate
it, extreme outdoor temperatures, especially cold, can lower their efficiency
significantly, causing your less efficient conventional gas or electric
system to kick in. The only solution to this problem is to pursue installation
of a more expensive geothermal system.
It's also important to consider your home's existing HVAC ducts.
Certain heat pumps require larger ducts, meaning you'll have to install
new ductwork in order to create a functional system.
Types of Heat Pumps
Air-source heat pumps are the most common type on the market. They work
by moving hot air between the outdoors and the interior of your home,
pushing out hot air in the summer and drawing it in during the winter.
For homeowners living in regions with moderate seasons, air-source pumps
can lower energy use by up to 40%. However, if your area experiences severe
winters, an air-source pump isn't your best option.
Many older homes lack insulated ductwork. For these homes, there are ductless
heat pump systems called mini-splits. Although they are somewhat more
expensive, these systems provide a viable option for homeowners who can't,
or wish not to, install additional ductwork.
Geothermal heat pumps are ideal for those who live in climates with extreme
seasonal temperatures. By using constant sources of ambient heat underground,
geothermal systems can deliver high efficiency in extreme climates.
Despite being more costly to install, homeowners report high levels of
satisfaction and overall efficiency from geothermal systems.
A Note on Refrigerants
All heat pumps utilize a chemical refrigerant. As many are already aware,
the refrigerant known as freon, or R22, is thought to be very harmful
for the environment, causing ozone depletion that allows harmful UV rays
through the earth's atmosphere.
Even though this refrigerant will be phased out of use by 2020, some units
still make use of it. Environmental concerns aside, units designed to
use R22 are often unable to use modern, more environmentally friendly
refrigerants, meaning they aren’t ideal for a new installation.
So be sure to find out what type of refrigerant each unit uses before
making a buying decision.
This post has only scratched the surface of what can be said on heat pumps.
Watch out for more in-depth posts on this topic in the coming weeks!