We have been conditioned toPexpect our appliances to cycle. The refrigerator turns off and on. The basement sump pump cycles. The clothes dryer runs until the clothes are dry and then turns off with a friendly melody letting you know that it has completed its job. If any of these machines did not cycle off as we expect, we would naturally think something is wrong. So when the weather gets cold and your heat pump runs constantly, myths are born. Like, A heat pump is not efficient in cold weather orP Turn off the heat pump when it gets cold orP Heat pumps are not designed for cold weather climates. All myths! Hopefully you have only heard thesePmisunderstood rantsPfrom neighbors or the expert know-it-all at work. But if you re hearing any of these myths from your heating contractor, you have some additional problems. If you re hearing these profound truths from your spouse, then they are absolutely true, but you might accidentally leave this blog open on the home PC. Here s the truth. Heat pumps are tremendously efficient, evenPin cold weather. True, the efficiency does decline slightlyPas the temperature goes down, but even at very cold, single digit temps, heat pump efficiency is impressive and always better than any other setting on your thermostat. Assuming your heat pump is working properly, neverPlisten toPany service technician who suggests giving the heat pump a rest unless you want to pay two or three times the cost on your electric bill. So if heat pumps are so efficient, then why do they run all the time?.
But what if my heat pump really is broke and running non-stop? How will I know if I need service?. But hold on! Not only does my heat pump run all day and all night, but when it does get cold outside, my home feels colder! What about that Mr. Heat Pump Expert?! Great question. Here s why. Your thermostat prioritizes the heat pumpPrun time to maximize the cheap heat. The auxiliary heat (electric resistance heat, or back-up heat) isPminimized since it is more expensive. PHere s how it works. PLet s say it is 28 degrees outside, the heat pump is running 100% as designed, thePhome is maintainingP72 degreesPandPall the heat made so far is cheap heat. Now let s sayPitPcools toP26 degrees outside. If the home temperaturePgoes downPone, orPsometimes twoPdegrees, thisPcauses the thermostat to bring on the auxiliary heat for a very short boost to supplement the heat pump. The home temperature raises to a point just short of the thermostatPset pointPand then the auxiliary heatPturns off as soon as possible. Meanwhile the heat pump has been running non-stop throughout this time to maximize the cheap heat. PSo in cold temperatures, the heat pump runs non stop to maximize your cheap heat but your homePmayPremain a degree or two below your thermostat setting. What should you do, suffer? NO! The heat pump is very efficient so make it do its thing. Simply turn up the thermostat a degree or twoPin cold weather so you are comfortable. Do not suffer and submit yourself to the old myth that heat pump homes are cold. (I ve heard service techs poorly advise customers, Sorry, you will just have to get used to it. ) Remember, you are not really splurgingPor abusing the environment by adding one or two degrees.
In veryPcold weather, adjusting a heatPpump thermostatPto 73Pmay be necessary toPprovide the 72 degree comfort you were initially looking for. One tip that is not a myth. Resist crankingPyour heat pumpPthermostat by more thanPtwo degrees at a time. If you do this frequently, you will be calling up the expensive heat to accommodate the fast blast of heat. This will not hurt your heating system but it can raise your bill if you do this often. More questions? Call Precision Comfort Systems. We re the honest ones with much more precise information on yourPcomfort systems.
Should my heat pump run constantly? My old furnace didn t! If you subscribe to the old school (that would be the bigger-is-better school) your old oversized furnace wasPprobablyPsuper-sized for the unlikely event that the next ice age will be here soon. The old goal is for yourPmonsterPfurnace to only run about half strength at minus 24 degrees. And the engine in that muscle car of yours is not even close to max at 120 mph, but that s when we normally back-er-down, cause that s when the girls start to get a bit nervous. PSo what s the deal with that heat pump running all day and all night as soon as the temperaturesPis in the twenties? PAre heat pumps gimpy? If you re more familiar with a large furnace cycling off and on for most of the Indiana winter, then a heat pump running constantly, 24/7 makes you suspicious that something is wrong.
Do not worry. This is exactly what the heat pump is designed to do. Heat pumps are very energy efficient. PThey do not have thePover-sized capacity of your old furnace but they consume much less energy and the more they run, the more cheap heat you re getting. Think of it this way. Since a heat pump is simply moving heat (instead of making heat like most other furnaces) and since we can move heat at a much lower cost than we can make heat, then why not maximize the amount of time we run the energy efficient heat moving machine? In the winter,PaPheat pump gathers heat from the outside and moves (pumps)Pthe heat into your home. In the summer, a heat pump reverses the heat moving process and moves unwanted heat from the inside of your home and disperses it outside. Back to winter, for each dollar that you would spend in an electric furnace to get one unit of heat, a heat pump will use the same dollar of electricity and provide up to 3. 5Ptimes the amountPof heat. As the temperature outside gets colder this efficiency decreases, but it is still a very efficient 2. 5 times better than straight electric coils. So why does my heat pump run non-stop, 24/7? PYour heat pump is sized for your air conditioning needs and in Central Indiana, this means it will not meet all your heating needs. So here is what happens. In outdoor temperatures above 30 degrees, the heat pump should cycle off and onPlike a normal furnace.
Somewhere between 20 and 30 degrees outdoor temperature, the heat pumpPwill reach a balance point where the heat needed by the home is equal to the heatPsupplied by the heat pump. So now it will run all the time. As the outdoor temperature goes lower than the balance point, the heat pump will continue to run non-stop and occasionally backup electric coils will supplement the heat pump. The heat pump is designed to run continuously to give you as much of the cheap heat as you can possibly get. This helps to minimize the more expensivePheat made from the backup coils. But do not be alarmed when the back up heat runs on the cold days. As long as the heat pump is allowed to run as it is designed, the back up heat will only account for 10% to 15% of the entire Indiana winter heating needs. Do not turn off your heat pump by switching to emergency heat! P. How do I know if my heat pump is working properly? Good question. If the heat pump stops working properly, the backup furnace will take over and this could double your bills. Even older heat pumps are much better than the electric furnace. P However, if your heat pump is too old, then its ability to move heat may be less than what it should be. Call Precision Comfort Systems, your Central Indiana heat pump specialists, to evaluate your current heat pump. We can tune it up or eventually replace it so you are getting the most from the current heat pump technology.