If you live in a moderate climate and want to reduce your heating and cooling bills dramatically, then you may want to consider an energy efficient heat pump.
Utilising electricity, these appliances work much similar to a refrigerator and can reduce your electricity bills by as much as 60% making them both a greener and more financially rewarding option for those who reside in an appropriate location and climate.
Advantages of a Heat Pump
Heat pumps can be extremely beneficial for home heating and cooling, but it largely depends on whether they are sized, installed, and used as they should be. Here are some of the major benefits of using a heat pump in your property:
Heating & Cooling – Due to their nature and mechanism that heat pumps use, namely evaporation and condensation, they can be used as both a heat source for your home and a way to cool it down during the summer months.
Low Maintenance – Compared to other appliances, heat pumps require very little maintenance, especially when you consider stoves, furnaces, and boilers that utilize combustion. Typically, you will need to clean and change the filter whenever required, which usually needs changing every few months. Other than this, you will need to carry out a system check every 6 months, which can easily be achieved on your own. It’s also advised to get a professional check once a year to ensure it is running efficiently and safely.
Increased Efficiency – Compared to heating systems that utilize combustion technology, heat pumps are considerably more efficient. The main reason for this is that heat pumps don’t produce heat; they simply transfer heat already in the environment, therefore, they have a healthy heat output for a relatively low energy input.
Increased Safety – Heating appliances that utilize combustion produce potentially harmful exhaust fumes including carbon monoxide, while heat pumps don’t, therefore, eliminating the hazards associated with stoves, fireplaces, and other combustion-based systems.
Is a Heat Pump Right for you?
Due to their efficiency and low cost of operation, heat pumps are a great appliance to use, but only in certain climates and locations. Heat pumps work best in places with mild temperature fluctuations that have moderate heating and cooling requirements.
How to Choose a Heat Pump
Ensuring you select the right heat pump for your individual circumstances is essential to maintaining efficiency and ensuring it fulfills its required role. Here are the main factors to consider when on the hunt for the best heat pump:
Sizing a heat pump – Ensuring you choose the right sized heat pump for your home is an essential part of the selection process. If you choose a unit that’s too small or too large, it won’t do an effective job a modulating the temperature and result in higher energy costs. Even worse, your home may be unbearable to live in. When thinking about the size you ought to consider the following:
- The climate your home is located in
- Seasonal fluctuations
- How well your home is insulated
A general rule is to use a heat pump at 60 Watts per m3 room volume in uninsulated properties, and in insulted buildings use a unit that provides 50 Watts per m3 room volume. However, for a better idea about sizing you should consult a professional contractor.
Types of Heat Pumps
Air-Source Heat Pumps – These are by far the most commonly used heat pump systems in the USA. They have two main components – one part serves the outside and is called the air processor, while the other serves the inside and is called the heat pump. A substance named a refrigerant then circulates between these two components and draws in heat and releases it as it cycles between them.
Ductless, Mini-Split Heat Pumps – These also have two components – a compressor and condenser that serve the outside and up to 5 indoor air processors. The components for indoors are much less noisy than the larger models and circulate the refrigerant substance via tubing via the inside and out. As well as reduced noise, ductless units also have the advantage of not requiring expensive and inefficient ductwork.
Geothermal Heat Pumps – These transfer heat via a collection of tubes in the ground that contains a liquid substance kept warm by the 50 to 60 degree F temperature of the earth. This liquid is cycled in and out of your home to modulate temperature and humidity. Other benefits include them being extremely quiet, efficient and having a long life in comparison to typical heat pump systems.
How does an Air Source Heat Pump Work?
Just like a refrigerator, a heat pump utilizes a chemical component termed a refrigerant which controls the movement of heat through evaporation and condensation. With the pump, a component called a compressor pumps the refrigerant amid several heat exchanger coils. As the refrigerant reaches the first coil it evaporates, which results in heat being absorbed from the environment. Continuing its journey to the second exchanger coil, the refrigerant condenses, resulting in the discharge of the heat it absorbed previously.
Heat pumps are similar to other cooling appliances such as air conditioners and standard refrigerators, except these devices only function to provide cooling. In a refrigerator, there is a central compartment coupled to a heat pump. The evaporating coil resides in the compartment. All heat is then drawn from this compartment and transferred to the external environment, typically to wherever the condenser coil is situated. Air conditioners operate in a similar manner – transferring heat from inside your house to the outside.
Air source heat pumps can provide heating and cooling throughout the year – they work by absorbing heat from outside in the colder months and discarding heat into the outside during the warmer times of the year. Air source heat pumps are the most frequently used heat pump in the US and Canada. Although, ground-source heat pumps – that absorb heat from below the ground are increasing in popularity.
Our Top Picks
Pioneer WYS012-17 Ductless Split System Heat Pump
BTU’s: Up to 36,000
Installation Kit: Yes
Remote Control: Yes
This super sleek split system heat pump is available in multiple different heat outputs, ranging from 9,000 BTU’s to 36,000 BTU’s, meaning there’s likely one for whatever sized property you live in – small, medium or large. The LED temperature display gives an edge over many competitors too and it also means you don’t have to buy or rely on thermometers.
The indoor component is ductless, helping to make further efficiency savings, which is an advantage over air-source heat pump that requires a duct system – inefficient to use and expensive to install. Instead, you get an installation kit with a 16-inch line, which can be a made to a custom length if you prefer, everything for installation is included except the tools.
In general, there are a lot of concerns about noise from the fan in heat pumps, but this unit is extremely quiet on both the indoor and outdoor components. The temperature settings, timer, and speed can all be controlled with a remote, meaning you won’t even have to move from your seat or slumber if you’re feeling too hot or cold.
MRCOOL DIY 16 SEER Ductless Heat Pump
BTU’s: Up to 36,000
Installation Kit: Yes
Remote Control: Yes
This small do-it-yourself heat pump is perfect for small living spaces including small homes, garages, home gyms and even bedrooms. Although perhaps the best benefit of the Mr Cool is that it’s designed for simple and easy installation, helping you to keep costs low and ideal for speedy operation.
At 24,000 BTU’s this model is suitable for moderate climates that don’t get too cool. For instance, if you are experiencing outdoor temperatures at around 30oF outdoors, this unit will likely help you get the temperature up to the 70’s indoors. It also has wifi functionality, allowing you to connect it to your phone and control the setting from there, convenient and effective – it also means there’s no need to worry about losing another controller.
The installation is very straightforward and involves placing a wall bracket wherever convenient; you will need the necessary tools to do this of course. As well as that, you will need to bore a hole through the wall if you don’t already have one that housed a previous air conditioner or heat pump; again, not too difficult but something worth remembering. This can easily be achieved using a drill.
Senville SENL-12CD 15 SEER Split Heat Pump
BTU’s: Up to 24,000
Installation Kit: Yes
Remote Control: Yes
If you’re looking to supplement the cooling or heating capability of a certain part of your homes, such as a bathroom or bedroom, then this mini model by Senville will get the job done. Available from 9,000 BTU’s to 24,000 BTU’s, this model features inverter and compressor components made by Toshiba – a reliable and trustworthy manufacturer.
With regards to installation, a kit is included which includes everything you need for a straightforward setup – including a 16 ft copper line. However, bear in mind that copper is temperamental and can be easily manipulated, for that reason we would always advise professional installation. The warranty is also dependant on getting it professionally installed to, so take note and do so at your own risk. Like the previously discussed models, installation generally involves wall mounting, as well as creating holes for the electric cables and copper line.
Like other similar models, it comes with a remote control, for easy temperature modulation and the fan technology provides a quiet operation making it ideal for sleeping environments such as bedrooms and even hotels.
A Heat pump can be a fantastic way to heat and cool homes with the right climates, and they are extremely efficient when compared to their combustion based rivals. The ductless models are typically used in residential properties due to their small, compact and attractive designs, while the larger air-source units tend to be used in large homes and commercial premises.
Whichever heat pump you choose in the end, remember to consider the three most important factors – appropriate size, your climate and how well your property is insulated. Being aware of these ensure you are selecting a unit most appropriate for your situation, which will ultimately save you money in the long run.