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Your Heat Pump and the Cold: What You Need to Know

How to Deal with Your Heat Pump in the Freezing Cold

These days, more of us are trying to reduce our carbon footprint and to minimize our impact on the environment, and this could be one reason why increasing numbers of households are switching to using heat pumps to warm their homes.

Heat pumps are an extremely cost-effective alternative to the conventional methods of heating, with the added bonus that they produce considerably less emissions than standard options. Even better, it is now possible to power a heat pump from a renewable energy source for an even more eco-friendly way of heating water and your home. Heat pumps serve a multi-functional purpose – they can either draw the heat from the air or the ground to warm the property, or, alternatively, be reversed to cool your home for an incredibly convenient solution. Heat pumps are also considered to be very efficient since no fuel is burned to create heat, it is merely transferred instead.

There is a downside, however, to having a heat pump installed in your home as your primary source of heating. These systems tend to function more effectively in a warmer climate, and when operated in cold temperatures, their efficiency is reduced. Therefore, if you live in an area that is cool all year round, or which has especially long and cold winters, is a heat pump really the right choice for you and your home?

Which Kind Of Heat Pump Works Well In Colder Weather?

It is a fact that the heat pumps work most effectively in a moderate or warm climate. The reason for this is because they are more easily able to extract surrounding heat and then convert it to energy more efficiently. Also, since a heat pump can be used either to heat or as an air conditioner, they are an especially good investment for anyone who lives in a warm climate since it will serve a multi-functional purpose.

However, if you make the wrong choice of heat pump for your environment, you could actually end up paying higher energy bills than you ever did before you had your heat pump installed!

Of course, this does not necessarily mean that if you live in a cold climate you should forget the idea of a heat pump altogether. There are some heat pumps which function more effectively in a cold climate than others, with those which feature exposed piping having to work harder to supply heat to the home when the outdoor temperatures are low. However, there geothermal heat pumps are a better choice for use in colder climates since they are buried below the ground where it is constantly and naturally warm. Since the piping is buried well below the surface, cold weather, frost and snow are unable to reach it, protecting the pump from freezing thanks to the ground’s natural warmth.

 

Can Households In Cold Climates Use An Air Source Heat Pump?

Households which opt for a geothermal heat pump will find that there will be no efficiency lost at any time of year, while if they choose an air-source heat pump which is exposed due to its outdoor installation, they will find that efficiency on the coldest days will be very poor. This is because the amount of warmth which is able to be transferred to your home via an air-source heat pump relies heavily on the ambient temperature outdoors, and if it drops too low, the heat output of the pump drops too.

As the outdoor temperature drops, the air source heat pump’s heating capacity also drops. Typically, an air source heat pump is sized so that it is capable of producing heat for around 80% to 90% of the household’s annual load, so if temperatures remain above freezing, the pump should be capable of filling the entire heating requirement of the property. However, if the outside temperatures are low, its efficiency will decline to such a point that it cannot function effectively.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that homes in regions where cold weather is sometimes experienced cannot install an air source heat pump, however a backup heating source is recommended to supply heat whenever the outdoor temperatures drop.

 

Can Air Source Heat Pumps Freeze?

There is no need to worry too much about air source heat pumps freezing. Yes, this is something that can happen if the weather is very cold, and yes, the pump and its piping will probably suffer somewhat as a result of this, however you should refrain from pouring anti-freeze into your piping if the pump is frozen since this will only exacerbate the problem.

If you air source heat pump freezes, it should automatically switch to its defrost setting, putting most of the energy towards thawing out the ice which has formed around and inside the piping. Should this not happen automatically, it’s important to read the manual to check if you can start up a defrosting process yourself. You should never try to rectify the problem yourself without contact a professional to get some advice about what to do, otherwise you could end up causing more harm than good.

 

What Types Of Supplementary Heating Systems Are There?

If you have an air source heat pump that cannot obtain sufficient warmth from the air to heat your home during cold weather, it is recommended that you invest in a supplementary heating system which can be used as and when required. The downside of this is that this will inevitably cause an increase in the home’s energy bills during the winter months, and since one of the primary reasons for installing a heat pump is to save energy and to use an eco-friendlier energy source, it may seem a little pointless if you have to use an alternative, high energy method instead whenever the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

There are two types of secondary heat forms – Gas furnaces (these are referred to as a dual fuel system or a hybrid heat system when used in conjunction with a heat pump), and electric resistance coil heaters.

Electric Resistance Coil Heaters

An electric resistance coil heater will be cheaper, and is often the default choice as a backup heat supply for a heat pump. Usually, they are installed in the property’s ductwork. An electric resistance heater has an efficiency rating of 100%, and this means that each 1 kilowatt hour of electricity is converted into 1 kilowatt hour of warmth delivered to the property. While this may sound impressive, it’s important to remember that a heat pump has an energy efficiency of around 300% – considerably higher. Therefore, if you live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing regularly, the electric resistance coils will be used more often, and your home energy bills will increase substantially.

Dual Fuel Systems (Gas Furnace)

Although a dual fuel gas furnace system will cost more initially than having an electric resistance coil heater installed, it will be a lot more energy efficient in the long term. This is because the electric resistance coils need around 3 times more source energy to produce heat when compared to a unit powered by gas. The upshot of this is that, although a dual system may have a purchase price around 25% higher than a regular A/C system, it will offer energy savings which will cover its purchase cost within around 5 to 6 years.

Other Alternatives

If you would rather not hook your property up to the electric or gas mains, or indeed any other kind of conventional heat system, it’s possible to buy gas-filled metal canisters which are able to be used in fake fireplaces and in other containers allowing you to warm your home. These are relatively inexpensive and work well as a backup source of heat for an air source heat pump.

Get Your Home Fall Ready!

Fall has to be one of our favorite seasons. The leaves are all starting to change color, the weather is getting a little chiller and soon all the fun of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas will be arriving!

 

When those days have started to disappear, then it is time to think about how you can make sure that your home is ready for fall, and ultimately for winter too. But what are the things that you need to think about?

 

To help you make sure that your home is fall-ready, we have put together our top tips for the things that you need to look at and make sure are ready to go.

 

Have you air conditioning unit and heating unit serviced

 

Whilst you may not be using your air conditioning for a few months, chances are that you are going to need your heating. Early fall means that the weather is still relatively warm, so you won’t need to turn on your heating just yet. This means that it is the ideal time to get an expert in to check over your heating unit. After all, the last thing you are going to want is to find that it doesn’t work when you need it the most!

 

Check for any drafts

 

Another reason that you may find that you feel the chill during the winter is because your home is a little on the drafty side. It is a really good idea to try and locate and fix any drafts that you have. An easy way to do this is to go around all the windows and doors and feel the edges, if you are not sure what you are feeling for, then take a candle with you. If the flame flickers when placed near to a seal, then chances are that there is a draft there.

 

Whilst drafts are relatively easy to fix, you can also buy heavy curtains for those windows that are really letting the chill in.

 

Invest in a programmable thermostat

 

When it is colder outside, we are much more likely to use our heating. This means that our energy usage and bills is going to be much higher. If this is a worry to you, then one thing that you can do is to invest in a programmable thermostat. These allow you to set the temperature to different levels during different times of the day. You can lower it at night when you are safely tucked up in bed and lower or turn it off when you are going to be out of the house.

You may be surprised by just how much money these can save you.

 

Protect your air conditioning unit

 

During the winter your air conditioning unit isn’t going to be used, which means that you need to protect it. If it is outdoors then you may need to cover it, and if you have a detachable air conditioning unit that is placed in a window, then now is the time to remove it and store away for the winter.

 

Turn off your outdoor taps and store your hoses

 

Chances are that you are not going to need your hose or outdoor water supply during the winter. If this is true then you should make sure that you drain out your hoses and disconnect them from any outside water source. You should also make sure that you turn off any exterior faucets and store your hoses in a place where they won’t be at risk of freezing.

 

Give your garden a makeover

 

Whilst the weather is still warm enough to spend some time outdoors, it is a great idea to make sure that your garden is fall-ready. There are a variety of things that you can get done. Inspect all the trees to make sure that they are not damaged, trim the bushes, shrubs and flowers back and make sure that you rake up all the leaves that may be lying around and get them in the compost. You can also prepare your garden for spring by planting any bulbs so that they are ready to sprout when spring comes around.

 

You will also want to make sure that you bring in any flowerpots from outside too.

 

Don’t forget the shed

 

During the fall and winter your garden is going to need an entirely different set of equipment to the summer. So, if your shed is looking a little messy, then it is a really good idea to get out there and tidy it up. Move back the things that you are not going to need until next year and bring forward the tools that will get you through the colder months.

 

Close up the pool

 

If you are lucky enough to have a pool in your garden then it ensure that you have someone booked in to come and close up the pool for winter. Some pool owners will know how to do this for themselves, however if you are not sure, then it is a good idea to have a professional come to do it for you.

 

Get your summer equipment serviced

 

Whilst you are sorting out the shed and moving around the equipment, it may pay to organize someone come out and take a look at it all. This includes your lawnmower and trimmer. Both of which may need some work on them to ensure that they are ready to face the spring.

 

Give your gutters a clean

 

When the leaves start to fall off the trees there is one part of your house that is likely to feel the brunt of it, and that is your gutters. During the summer months your gutters usually stay relatively clear of debris, but as the leaves start to fall, chances are that they are going to end up in your gutters, clogging them up and making drainage all the trickier.

 

Take a look at your roof

 

The last thing that you are going to want is to find that your roof is leaking and broken when the weather turns. So, get up on your roof and make sure that everything is nice and clear, you will be really pleased that you made the effort to check when you are warm and cozy inside your home.

 

Make sure that your chimney is clear

 

During the fall and winter you are much more likely to turn on your heating and even light up the fire. This means that you need to make sure that your chimney is clear. Otherwise you could find that you have a problem when you need to use it if it happens to be blocked or clogged.

 

Drain your sprinkler system

 

Much like your outdoor tap, if you leave your sprinkler system out during the fall and winter, then it is a good idea to drain it. This makes sure that you don’t end up finding that it is frozen, or even worse, damaged when the spring and summer comes around.

 

Change the air filters in your heating system

 

Over time your air filters can become clogged and this can make your equipment less efficient. Not to mention damaged too. To make sure that your heating system is working the best that it can, it makes sense to ensure that you change your air filters as well as drain out all the pipes too.

 

Insulate your pipes

 

If you have any pipes that are exposed to the elements then it is a good idea to find out ways to insulate them. Exposed water pipes can freeze when the winter comes around and this can lead to them bursting. Not only are burst water pipes messy but they can be expensive to fix too. Also, imagine how you would feel if you had to do without hot water during the winter months. Not the nicest idea in the world!

 

 

 

As you can see, not only do you need to make sure that your wardrobe is ready for the fall, but your home is too. There are plenty of things to think about and make sure that you do, but once the colder weather hits, then you can be sure to feel grateful that you took the time out to do them all!

 

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