Maximizing the Energy Efficiency of Residential Heat Pumps for Winter Weather

As the northern hemisphere of the planet prepares for the cold weather of winter, many homeowners are seeking ways to lower their monthly winter heating bills. While homeowners do not have any control over the unit price of natural gas or electricity, there are ways that homeowners can take action to maximize the energy efficiency of their heating systems. According to this article on The Columbian, heating and cooling accounts for 50 percent of a household’s monthly energy consumption. Improving upon a heat pump’s energy efficiency can therefore yield significant savings on a homeowner’s utility bills.

Air Filter Replacement

A dirty air filter can reduce a heat pump’s efficiency by 5 to 15 percent. Leaving a dirty air filter in the air handler portion of a heat pump may also cause the heat pump to have shortened lifespan. During the winter months, homeowners should replace the heat pump’s air filter every 90 days. The air filter should be replaced on a more frequent basis in homes with one or more furry pets or in homes with smokers, as these situations cause buildup to develop at a faster pace on the air filter. A heating and cooling service company can also perform this service as part of the semi-annual tune-up of the system.

Ductless Heat Pump Systems

Ductless heat pump systems are also referred to as zoned heat pump systems. These systems allow homeowners to create separate zones within the living spaces of the home. The zones can each be set up with a programmable thermostat. Homeowners can maximize the efficiency of the system by setting the thermostat to a comfortable temperature for the zone they are in and then allowing other areas of the home to be cooler during the winter and warmer during the summer.

Duct Sealing

Up to 35 percent of the warm air delivered by the heat pump may be lost due to leaky air ducts. In homes with air ducts, the ducts should be inspected once each year for damage. The ducts can be professionally sealed to reduce unwanted air leakage. When less of the heated air is lost to leaks, the heat pump will not have to work as hard to maintain the temperature setting on the home’s thermostat.

System Maintenance

Heat pump systems require a tune-up before the onset of winter weather. Because the heat pump has so many complicated electronic, mechanical and computerized components, an experienced technician can diagnose any problems and rectify them before the weather becomes uncomfortably cold. A system tune-up includes cleaning and application of lubricant which can increase the system’s efficiency by 5 percent or more.

Thermostat Programming

Today’s heat pump systems come with programmable thermostats to optimize the system’s performance. Homeowners can set a schedule so the system does not maintain as high a temperature while no one is home. Schedules can be set for each day of the week and the weekend to save on energy.

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