If you’ve recently had a heat pump installed the following information will help you learn how a heat pump works and how to properly maintain it to keep it as efficient as possible.
Heat pumps act much like a refrigerator in reverse, transferring heat from one place to another. While a fridge transfers heat from inside the fridge to outside (to cool the inside space), a heat pump uses a small amount of energy to move heat that exists outside the house, to the inside. Even on cold days there is heat available from the outside, which can be used to heat your home. This means that instead of generating heat like electric baseboards, they can use electricity to give more heat for less cost. The two components of a heat pump – an inside unit and an outside unit – work together as a system to transfer and distribute the heat to the home.
Heat pumps need a source of heat, which is traditionally the outside air, the ground, or a large body of water. Systems that transfer heat from the outside air are called air source heat pumps and systems that transfer heat from the ground or water are called geothermal heat pumps. Most heat pumps installed through the Enhanced Energy Savings Program are air source.
There are two main types of air-source heat pumps: ducted systems and ductless or “mini-split” systems.
Ducted systems use forced-air ducting to distribute heating and cooling whereas mini-splits do not require a forced-air system.
Ductless mini-split systems are generally more affordable than ducted systems and are currently the most popular choice of homeowners in New Brunswick because most homes do not have an existing warm air ducting system.
Heat pumps operate most efficiently when holding a steady temperature. Turning a heat pump down when you’re away or asleep may use more energy than leaving it on. The reason is that it has to work harder to come back to the desired temperature than it does to maintain it. It’s best to set it at a comfortable temperature and forget it.
One of the common attractions to heat pumps is the cooling ability. The cooling cycle reverses the heating process to transfer heat out of your home. The heat pump also acts as a dehumidifier during the cooling cycle.
It’s important to remember that cooling your home uses the same amount of energy as heating, so be careful not to overuse this feature and decrease the energy savings you were expecting. If your home does not require air conditioning, simply shut off your heat pump. As heat pumps still use electricity, use it only when needed for cooling and try other ways to keep your home cool (like closing windows and curtains during the hottest parts of the day, or planting leafy trees in front of windows). Central systems can be switched to a low-energy “Circulate Only” mode which simply moves cool air from the basement to other warmer areas of the home. If your home experiences overheating in the summer, this can be a sign of inadequate insulation so consider having a Home Energy Evaluation that may save on both your cooling and heating costs.
Most of the maintenance required for your heat pump can be done yourself with the help of a step stool and hose attachment of a vacuum cleaner.
As the homeowner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that:
Here is a simple maintenance routine to follow throughout the year to ensure your ductless heat pump is working at its optimum.
The following symptoms are a good indicator that you might need a deeper cleaning.
o Decrease in device performance, for example less air conditioning than before
o Presence of trash visible to the naked eye (mildew and dust)
o Fan louder than before
o Water flowing
o Small balls of debris discard by the device
What to do if your Heat Pump outdoor unit has excessive ice buildup on the coil?
No. The unit will adjust itself to be in either heating or cooling mode depending on the temperature in the room and the temperature on the heat pump. If it’s set to auto and the sun heats up the room, it could trigger the AC in the middle of winter.
We recommend cleaning them monthly. See our “What Maintenance is required for My Heat Pump?” section for easy steps to keep your heat pump clean.
One way heat pumps are rated is the coefficient of performance (COP). The COP tells us how much heat the heat pump creates using one watt of electricity. For example, if a heat pump has a COP of 3, this means the heat pump is capable of producing 3 units of heat for every watt of power used.
For reference, baseboard heat has a COP of 1, meaning that 1 unit of heat is put into the room for 1 watt of power used. Any furnace, boiler, or stove burning any fuel has a COP of less than 1; for each unit of heat introduced into the room more than 1 unit of energy was used (some heat is lost up the chimney).
Content Source: Efficiency Nova Scotia