Answering 10 common heat pump questions
Trust us – we get it. Getting all of the information you need about the many heating and air conditioning systems can seem overwhelming. There are so many different systems and features that will impact your home comfort levels and the amount of money you spend heating and cooling your home year-round. Plus, it’s a big investment. So, we’re going to answer some of the common questions you may have about different systems.
This week, we’re going to talk about heat pumps.
10. What is a defrost cycle?
As we’ve covered in our previous heat pump post about winter, the defrost cycle occurs when ice forms on the outdoor components of your heat pump on really cold days. When this happens, your heat pump actually goes into air conditioning mode to thaw the ice. While it is alarming the first time it happens, just know it is completely normal.
9. What does a heat pump look like?
It’s actually hard to distinguish between air conditioners and heat pumps – they look exactly the same! Which brings us to our next question…
8. How do I know if I have a heat pump?
Well, short of asking a contractor, you can actually search by model number online. You can also look at your thermostat and see if your thermostat has an “emergency heat’ setting. Although there are a few more ways to tell if you have a heat pump, these are the simplest.
7. What’s the difference between “air-to-air’ heat pumps and “earth-to-air” heat pumps?
An air-to-air heat pump is what is known as an air-source heat pump. These heat pumps transfer heat from outdoor air into your indoor air and vice versa. An earth-to-air heat pump, or ground-source geothermal heat pump, transfer heat from the earth and into your indoor air and vice versa. When we are talking about heat pumps on this blog, we are most likely talking about “air-to-air” heat pumps (unless otherwise specified).
6. Is a heat pump better than an air conditioner?
Well, that all depends on your heating and cooling needs. In general, if you are in an area that experiences varied seasons, where electric heat transfer can be beneficial, a heat pump is the better bet. Also, in areas that do not need gas heating during the winter but do need some form of heat, it is better to invest in a heat pump than an air conditioner with electric backup strips. Again, heat transfer generally consumes less electricity than heat creation.
5. How do I operate a heat pump in winter?
Luckily, we have a whole post on this! But, the short of it is, heat pumps can be great for the winter! Just make sure if you experience colder winters, you pair your heat pump with a gas furnace instead of an air handler.
4. Are heat pumps efficient?
Heat pumps can be very efficient when installed and run correctly. Minimum cooling efficiency standards for heat pumps were just raised to 14 SEER across the country, and there are models that reach 20 SEER and above!
3. What size heat pump do I need?
Like all heating and cooling systems, heat pump sizing varies according to your specific needs. When your contractor comes to your home to give you an estimate, they should preform a Manual J load calculation to determine which size you need. Heat pump size is measured in tons – the larger the tonnage, the bigger the system.
2. How much does a heat pump cost?
Like size, heat pump cost is going to vary according to your specific needs. Make sure when you are in the market for a brand new heat pump, you get several quotes from different contractors. And keep in mind, you don’t want to cut corners when it comes to contractors. One contractor may offer a lower quote, but they may not do the job up to your standards. A heat pump is a big investment (like any heating and cooling system), you want to make sure it is installed correctly.
1. How does a heat pump work?
Well, a heat pump actually works exactly like an air conditioner. BUT, in addition to cooling mode, the heat pump is able to reverse the flow of refrigerant and provide electric heating power. Because this is heat transfer, it can be more efficient than using an air conditioner with electric backup heating strips.
Do you have more questions about heat pumps? Let us know! If you have more questions, you can also get in touch with you local heating and air conditioning contractor.