The Basics of Winter Heat Pump Use

The Basics of Winter Heat Pump Use

Winter’s on its way. Are you giving your heat pump more of a workout than you need to? A heat pump works differently in the winter than it does in warmer months, so a few precautions can ensure optimal efficiency and comfort. Warm up to these basics of winter heat pump operation to make the most of your energy dollars and safeguard the longevity of your system.

Winter Heat Pump Operation: Why Is It Different?

Among the most efficient forms of heating your home, heat pumps don’t generate heat. They move it from one place to the other: Inside-to-outside during the summer, and outside-to-inside during the winter. Despite the chill, they can still manage to pull heat out of the air when it’s cold outside, but they do lose a bit of operational efficiency below freezing. Curious as to how to get a bit more performance out of your heat pump system this winter?

Maximize Heat Pump Performance with These Tips:

  • Control yourself.
    Cranking the thermostat to 90 won’t heat your home up faster – but it will burn a lot more energy. Look to programmable and smart thermostat options that slowly turn the heat up about 15 minutes before you need it instead. Always be sure to turn your heat pump off when it’s not in use, keeping temperatures to 65-75 degrees F for optimal operation.
  • Make your life easier…
    Ditch constant monitoring with a programmable or Smart (WiFi) thermostat for convenient temperature control.
  • Don’t let ‘defrost mode’ scare you.
    The defrosting of components is a normal part of winter operation. But know this cycle is typically short - if your system stays in defrost mode for an overly long time, be sure to call your local HVAC contractor.
  • Change your filter.
    This not only safeguards indoor air quality, but the lifespan of your system, preventing it from struggling to move air.
  • Keep leaves away from the heat pump.
    Clearing debris away prevents blocked airflow and decreased efficiency.
  • Do NOT get a cover for the heat pump in winter.
    Heat pump shelter is not necessary and can cause serious problems like mold growth and pest infestation. Your heat pump must be able to freely breathe around the top and all sides. If a storm causes snow or ice to form, gently clean the top only. Do NOT clean the sides. This is unnecessary and could damage fragile fins. The heat pump handles this on its own in defrost mode.
  • Don’t heat the whole neighborhood.
    Make sure seams surrounding doors, windows, outlets, and plumbing are properly sealed, and your home’s attic, crawlspace, and ductwork has sufficient insulation. Keep doors closed and curtains shut to hold in heat.
  • Avoid relying on ‘emergency heat.’
    Extremely inefficient, this mode should be reserved for actual emergencies due to its propensity to drive up energy bills. Normal mode is a much better use of your energy dollars.
  • Team-up for efficiency.
    If you live in an area of the country that regularly drops below freezing, consider a dual-fuel heat pump option: A heat pump paired with a gas furnace. This ensures the most efficient means of heating your home when temperatures are sub-zero.
  • Ask a pro.
    Ask a professional HVAC contractor about the best way to operate your heat pump for your area climate.
  • Keep your system up to snuff.
    With a regular professional cleaning and maintenance prior to peak heating season to prevent unexpected breakdowns and repairs.

Cozying up to the colder weather? Get off to the right start, ensuring maximum performance and efficiency. Schedule your annual pre-season service and maintenance with Aire Serv® today.

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