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How Energy Efficient Are Heat Pumps?

Being located in the middle or southern United States affords one a lot of benefits. Not only do you have access to some of the greatest southern home cooking available, but you’ll have access to the mild temperatures. This is especially true for those in the middle of the world. Those deep in the south might be constantly batting hot weather, but at least winter won’t be much of a problem. That being said, your unique location and access to the weather grid make you a suitable applicant for a heat pump. Heat pumps have been increasing in popularity as of late, as they are not only more energy-efficient, but they aren’t as harmful to the environment because they don’t produce gaseous exhaust fumes. Whatever the situation, a heat pump might be the best suitable application for your new San Diego home. Here are some more things you need to know about heat pumps and the efficiency they offer.

What Make Heat Pump Energy-Efficient?

When all said and done, the number one reasons that heat pumps are more energy efficient is, they don’t generate heat, they transfer for it. With the use of electrical heat, they can generate heat, but these applications always try to run and satisfy the temperature in the home without bringing on the electrical heat. Heat pumps regulate the temperatures in the home or space by moving the heat from the inside to the outside. This is during the cooling cycle, but a similar theory is applied during the heating cycle. During the heating cycle, the unit takes heat from the compressor and Freon and generates it into the home. When refrigerant or Freon is under pressure it generates heat. The heat in conjunction with the heat from the running compressor is used to heat the work. If you are at all familiar with vehicular heating systems, you know this is the exact theory these systems operate under. If you go to your outdoor unit during the winter months, you’ll notice that it is blowing out cold air. The opposite will be true in the summer. The unit will be blowing out heat from the top of the unit. This is the unit pulling out the unwanted heating or cooling of the building and dispensing it outside. That being said, the amount of power needed to run the unit in the heating cycle is much less than that compared to the cooling cycle. Simply meaning, your unit is even more efficient during the heating cycle. This is, of course, when you aren’t utilizing the heating elements or electrical heat.

Understanding Energy-Efficiency Ratings

As you just learned, a heat pump is more effective and efficient because it moves heat. It doesn’t generate heat. This doesn’t mean that it can’t generate heat. It just means that the unit isn’t designed to generate heat while operating in the heat pump cycle. Heat pumps can also heat and cool so there has to be a way to rate the energy they use during both the heat and cooling cycles. This number is referred to as a seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER). A SEER rating will be an interruption of the unit’s annual cooling performance. This is an equation that also factors in the climatic conditions of your area. If you look closely, you’ll also notice there is an SPF rating on your unit. The SPF rating of a unit is the seasonal performance factor and it represents the heating portion of the unit. How efficient is your unit while running in the heating? You learned earlier that it takes more energy to make the unit operate in the cooling cycle than compared to the heating cycle. Outside temperatures can always play a major role when dealing with energy efficiency ratings and operational cycles of heat pumps. Even with a furnace, when there is a significant variation between the input and output temperatures, the unit is going to work harder and require more electricity to satisfy the temperature. Certain climates can increase this variation. Simply put, being located in a specific area may naturally decrease the natural efficiency of the unit. This is why heat pumps just aren’t suitable for some climates. Understand your heat pump temperatures and energy ratings can help you get the most from the unit. If you don’t understand all the technical jargon, knowing the basics of a heat pump can help you control and operate the unit more effectively. This will not only save you a bundle on operational costs, but it’ll help limit the amount of wear and tear exerted on the unit, increasing the life of the unit

Understanding The Temperature Ranges For Heat Pumps

The ambient and surrounding temperatures cannot be stressed enough when dealing with heat pumps. The outside temperature plays such a major role in the function of the unit it isn’t even funny. And, this is because these units are designed to transfer energy and heat. That being said, there are specific temperature ranges where heat pumps are more suitable and operational. This would be anywhere from the 25 to 40 degrees F ranges. When you get down to the low twenties or below, the unit simply won’t be able to generate the requisite energy, Given that San Diego is a mild climate, there are times of the year homeowners will be able to benefit from the use of heat pumps. All this being said, it doesn’t mean that heat pumps can be utilized when the temperatures get below 25 degrees F. These units are oftentimes installed in areas where the temperatures are commonly this low. The only problem is, they just aren’t as efficient in the temperatures and they aren’t operating like heat pumps. They’ll be operating like electric furnaces, which means they’ll be supplemented with electrical heating elements. This is when things get inefficient. It takes a lot of electricity to power the heating elements. That being said, there are other alternatives for people living in areas where 25 degrees F and below are common. These alternatives would be known as geothermal heat pumps. Instead of utilizing heat from the refrigerant and compressor, these units draw energy from underground water sources. Given that these units utilize underground water sources, they will need to be installed near ponds and other water sources. You might not even be applicable for a geothermal unit if your home isn’t located in the right conditions.

The Two-Stage Compressor Heat Pumps

Most of the early model heat pumps only utilized one compressor to transfer energy. As you can imagine, these units just simply weren’t effective. Sure, they are capable of satisfying temperatures in the home or office, but they just didn’t offer the savings most people were looking for. In addition to this, they were easier to maintain and last a long time. So, you might be wondering what was wrong with these units? They were energy-efficient, durable, and dependable? They were all those things, but they simply weren’t as effective as their counterparts, the two-stage compressors. The single-stage compressor could handle the extreme temperature fluctuations that some areas are prone to. This is where the two-stage compressor came in. A two-stage system, while there are different variations, usually consists of two different compressors. One will be large and one will be small. One is obviously for higher capacity tasks, while the other tackles the lower capacity jobs. That being said, the lower capacity unit will only run 80 percent of the time, hence the energy savings. The lower capacity units consume less energy and there is no reason to use more than you need. The higher capacity compressors are much better at handling more extreme temperature variations and fluctuations. Two-stage options are also a great alternative for anyone concerned with indoor air quality. And, this is because they are more than effective at removing unwanted moisture. This is something you’ll certainly want to do on those humid, long, and hot summer San Diego days.

The Variable Speed Heat Pumps

There is simply no denying that a two-stage compressor can greatly enhance the energy efficiency rating of your home or office. However, if you are looking for another option to raise the efficiency of the area, you’ll want to consider the variable speed fan motors. These motors don’t just offer a second stage, but instead, they raise the capacity of the system incrementally when are where it is needed. This gives you much more control over the needs of your home or space. You can install a variable speed fan motor in conjunction with a two-stage compressor, but most people opt for one or the other. There is no denying that the two-stage compressor is efficient and effective. However, it can be a much louder option. If you are looking for something a little less conspicuous, you might want to opt for the variable speed motor. It works by increasing the speed when the demand calls for it. It also does this without generating a whole lot of noise. Variable-speed fan motors are also excellent for filtration and dehumidification. The EPA says that these applications can help to reduce the humidity in the San Diego area by as much as 30 to 50 percent. That’s nearly half!

Heat Pump Sizing And Installation

You have to be extremely diligent when choosing a heat pump for your home or office. The unit has to be size exactly right. If you are simply replacing what’s already there, you shouldn’t have to worry about sizing. This is unless, of course, you’ve added to the area. If you’ve added additional rooms and branched off the existing heating and air system, the system may be now undersized. An undersized system is not a good thing, as it’ll just run and run without ever satisfying the temperature in the home. An oversized unit isn’t a good thing either, as it will mean that the unit will short cycle. It’ll come on, run for a few seconds, satisfy the temperature, and shut off. This might seem like how the unit is supposed to operate, but if the unit is not fully cycling, it won’t be able to effectively remove all the moisture from the space. Outside considerations also have to be made when sizing a unit. Are there trees that shade the home? Will the outside, condensing unit be sitting in direct sunlight most of the time? These are all factors that can affect the operation and efficiency of your unit. Luckily, these are all things your local, San Diego HVAC tech can assist with. A highly trained and certified HVAC tech can help you choose and size your heating and cooling system. Never assume that what’s already installed is the way to go back, especially if you are already having problems. Work with a local San Diego HVAC tech to discover your home’s unique needs.

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