Choosing a Heat Pump System
The control for a Carrier Infinity heat pump system from a recent installation.
Today’s high-efficiency heat pumps use about 30% to 50% less energy than those just a couple short decades ago. Even if your heat pump is only 10 years old, you may be able to save 20% to 40% by replacing your current heat pump with a recent, more efficient model.
But the efficiency of the model alone is not enough. You must evaluate the efficiency of the unit within the environment you wish to cool.
We provide heat pump installation and heat pump repair services to Dutchess County, Orange County, Ulster County, Putnam County and Rockland County, New York.
Purchase the Right Sized Heat Pump
Heat pumps are rated by the number of British Thermal Units (BTUs) of heat they can remove per hour. Another common rating term for heat pump size is the “ton,” which is equal to 12,000 BTUs per hour. The efficiency, performance, durability, and initial cost of an heat pump are functions of matching its size to the following factors:
- The size of your home and the number of windows it has,
- The amount of shade that falls on your home’s windows, walls, and roof,
- How much insulation is in the ceiling and walls of your home,
- The amount of air that leaks into your home from the outside, and
- How much heat is produced by the occupants and other appliances in your home.
Remember that a large heat pump will not necessarily provide the best cooling. In fact, installing an heat pump that is too big for your needs will always be less efficient and may even be less effective. Here are some of the negative consequences:
- The larger the heat pump you buy, the more it will cost up front.
- A larger-than-necessary heat pump switches on and off more frequently, which reduces its efficiency.
- This frequent cycling makes indoor temperatures fluctuate and creates a less comfortable environment.
- Frequent cycling also minimizes moisture removal that is essential for comfort in humid climates.
- Constant on/off switching wears out the compressor and electrical parts more rapidly increasing repair and maintenance costs and almost always necessitates premature replacement
- A larger heat pump uses more electricity and creates added demands on electrical
generation and delivery systems.
“We just got our Central Air conditioning and heat pump installed by Go Green Express. the technicians, Paul Abbas and Devin did a great job installing the system. They are Professional, Neat and Courteous, they did a magnificent, first class job. I would definitely use them again and recommend them. Thanks again to the whole Go Green Express team.” By Anthony M. on 07/31/14
Heat Pump Efficiency
Heat pumps have an energy-efficiency rating of that identifies how many BTUs per hour are removed from the space for each watt of electricity it consumes. For room heat pumps, we call this the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). For central heat pumps, it is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). You’ll find these ratings on the Energy Guide Label that is visibly attached to all new heat pumps. Many heat pump manufacturers participate in the EnergyStar® labeling program. This insignia means that the product complies with high efficiency standards and generally reflects high EER and SEER ratings.
Usually, new heat pumps with higher EERs or SEERs are more expensive. But don’t let that put you off. The higher priced unit will pay you back many times over during the life of the system in reduced energy costs.
We strongly recommend that you purchase the most efficient heat pump you can afford, especially since you are living in an area where demand and power rates are high.
Consumer Hint: Because of their interest in conserving stretched energy resources, utility companies sometimes offer cash rebates and other incentives for consumers to invest in higher efficiency systems. Allow us to check with your power company to see if any such opportunities are available.
The Noise Factor
Some heat pump units can produce some noise. This is generally not a problem for a unit located outside the home, but is a factor you should consider in making your purchase if the unit will be placed in proximity to bedrooms or other high-traffic living areas, or if it is in close proximity to neighbors. Most late model units have sound ratings that are measured in decibels.
Installation and Location
Once correctly installed, your heat pump should perform efficiently for years with only minor routine maintenance. Too often, however, heat pumps are not installed correctly. This could result in even a late-model, high efficiency system performing almost as poorly as an older one. Again, this underscores the importance of choosing a reputable contractor you know you can trust.
Here are a few important things to look for when installing a new heat pump system.
- Allow sufficient indoor space for the installation, maintenance, and repair of the new system.
- Install an access door in the furnace or duct to clean the evaporator coil.
- Use a duct-sizing methodology such as the heat pump Contractors of America (ACCA) Manual D standard.
- Make sure there are enough supply registers to distribute cool air throughout the space, and enough return air registers to carry warm house air back to the heat pump.
- Wherever possible, install ductwork within the air conditioned space, not in the attic. Where that is not possible, make sure the ductwork is well-insulated.
- Seal all ducts with duct mastic and heavily insulate attic ducts.
- Locate the condensing unit where its noise will not keep you or your neighbors awake at night.
- If possible, place the condensing unit in a shady spot, which can reduce your heat pump costs by up to 2% or more.
- Verify that the newly installed heat pump has the exact refrigerant charge and airflow rate specified by the manufacturer.
- Locate the thermostat away from heat sources, such as windows, or supply registers.
- When replacing an older or failed split system, be certain to replace the evaporator coil with a new one that exactly matches the condenser coil in the new condensing unit. (If the existing evaporator coil is left in place, not only is it likely that the heat pump’s efficiency will not improve, but the old coil could actually cause the new compressor to fail prematurely.)
When installing a new heat pump system, consider these guidelines:
- Whenever possible, position the heat pump in a window or wall area near the center of the room and on the side of the house with the most shade.
- Use foam weather-stripping material to fit the room heat pump tightly into its opening and seal any gaps. This will diminish air leakage and increase efficiency.