If you are considering installing a heat pump, there’s a good chance you are motivated to save money on electricity bills. Cooling and heating efficiency are among the top features of modern heat pumps. Before you assume using a heat pump will save compared to conventional air conditioning, you should understand how to choose the best system and all of the factors that can affect how much electricity heat pumps use.
When a new HVAC appliance is installed, you should consider the long term costs of ownership and operation. Heat pumps can be an energy-efficient heating and cooling option. Since a heat pump operates solely on electricity these appliances are considered more eco-friendly than some other HVAC equipment. Just like natural gas furnaces are a major factor in your monthly energy bill, a heat pump will impact your electric bill. So it is no surprise that many homeowners’ first question when considering installing a heat pump is “how much are the electricity costs?”.
There is no simple answer but as an HVAC expert, Poston Brothers has great insight into how to reduce your electricity bill while enjoying all the great benefits of a heat pump.
How Does a Heat Pump Work?
A heat pump is considered renewable energy. Air source heat pumps are becoming very popular to replace air conditioners and either replace or heavily supplement natural gas furnaces. Geothermal heat pumps harness energy stored in the ground where stable temperatures year round provide energy to heat, cool and even power hot water.
All heat pumps work by transferring heat from one location to another. Refrigerant is pressurized in the compressor in the outdoor unit. Air inside the home circulates across coils inside the air handler. During cooling mode, cold refrigerant exchanges heat, lowering indoor temperatures and transferring heat outside. During heat mode, the process is reversed. Outdoor air is pressurized and the heat from the pressurized refrigerant is transferred into your indoor air. Electricity consumption of both an air source heat pump and a geothermal heat pump relies on the heat pump unit, as well as the installation and maintenance of the system.
Choosing the Most Energy Efficient Heat Pump
There is no clear choice for the ideal heat pump because there are so many variations in home size, design and environmental factors throughout the country. In our region, Poston Brothers must consider how a heat pump will work during the winter. Heat pump technology is rapidly advancing but one of the primary factors that impacts a heat pump’s electricity usage is the climate. In colder climates, an air source heat pump will work harder to extract heat from the outdoor air. This may result in higher electricity usage especially if you choose the wrong heat pump.
If you live in an older home or a home with poor insulation, the heat gain and heat loss ratio will also impact how much electricity your heat pump consumes. It is worth noting that even in colder climates, heat pumps are generally more energy-efficient than traditional heating systems like natural gas furnaces. When selecting a heat pump that will use the least amount of electricity, consult with an HVAC expert about the following factors.
Heat pump technology means air source heat pumps and geothermal are becoming much more energy efficient even in colder climates. There are a number of models that manufacturers design specifically to improve electricity costs during extreme weather.
Heat Pump Size
Just like a furnace or air conditioner, you will need to match the right size of heat pump to your home. There are calculators to factor the ideal British Thermal Units (BTUs) suited to your home design and lifestyle. A heat pump’s running costs largely depend on the installation and maintenance so it is important to consult a heat pump specialist.
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating
Another factor that impacts a heat pump’s electricity usage is the efficiency rating or SEER. Within the different sizes of heat pumps, you will see features that increase the cost of the unit. Some features will increase the indoor air quality or enhance operating features during heat pump use. Understanding how the additional features will improve your electricity bills and usage is a question for your contractor. Different manufacturers are designing improvements to convert energy more efficiently. SEER is a constant throughout the industry. A higher seasonal energy efficiency rating means the heat pump will use less energy.
Optimizing the HVAC System
The final consideration when choosing the most energy efficient heat pump is considering all of the components within the HVAC system. Both in heating mode and cooling mode, a heat pump can provide an ideal renewable energy. When you work with a professional expert to match the proper heat pump unit to your home, you can also optimize your system around your lifestyle.
For instance, a smart thermostat adjusts the temperature in your house around your schedule. By adjusting your temperature settings smart thermostats save an average of 8% on energy bills.
Maintaining your system also helps to reduce strain on your heat pump and air handler. When a heat pump runs dirt, airborne debris and general wear can reduce efficiency. Professional inspections in the spring and fall make sure your system is running at peak efficiency.
As part of installing a new heat pump and ongoing maintenance, protecting your air ducts is a primary way to reduce how much electricity you use. The amount of heating and cooling wasted due to poorly designed and leaking air ducts surprises most homeowners. As much as 25-40% of treated air is lost to energy waste.
Regularly changing your air filter and keeping the area around your heat pump and indoor air handler clean improves air flow and improves your over energy consumption. Another DIY consideration throughout the year is sealing leaks in windows and drafty doors. Adding insulation is another way to protect your home and minimize heat pump use. Ultimately, the less air source heat pumps and geothermal systems run the lower your electric bill.
Finally, the patterns of the occupants in your home impact a heat pump’s electricity usage. For example, if the thermostat is set very high or very low, the heat pump may need to work harder to maintain the desired temperature. Improving indoor air quality with a whole house humidifier, air cleaners and air purifiers helps you and your family feel more comfortable without relying solely on the temperature settings.
Is a Heat Pump the Right Choice?
In almost every comparison, a heat pump can be a more energy efficient and eco-friendly alternative to an air conditioner. Choosing the best system to suit your home and lifestyle is most important. For homeowners who are focused on reducing reliance on fossil fuels like natural gas, an air source heat pump may be appealing. In some of these cases, adding an HVAC solar panel system can truly reduce your carbon footprint in sunny and warmer climates.
During cold weather, a heat pump uses more electricity and in some climates when the outdoor temperature falls steadily converting energy in the air can be inefficient. So air source heat pumps stop working effectively in extremely cold weather. This means you need to work with a heat pump specialist. Depending on where you live and the design of your home, you may use a hybrid system where a heat pump works to cool and heat your home most of the time a natural gas furnace supplements heat on the most extreme weather days.
Since there are so many factors to optimizing how much electricity heat pumps use, your decision should be informed and deliberate. A heat pump is a long term solution built to last for well over a decade with proper care and maintenance. When you work with a heat pump specialist like Poston Brothers, you will get honest and fair guidance. Heating and cooling systems can use far less electricity when designed and cared for properly. Whether you choose to install an air conditioner, furnace or learn more about how a heat pump works for your home, local heating and cooling experts provide insight on how much electricity you can save.