At What Temperature Can I Turn My Heat Pump Off in Spring?
If you’re used to owning a traditional furnace, you may have the habit of turning it off in the spring. The variability of the outside temperature can cause your thermostat to fluctuate all day, wasting energy and actually driving up utility costs. However, if you’re new to owning a heat pump or you’re thinking of having one installed, it is time to change up your spring routine.
As you’ll see, the name “heat pump” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s true that heat pumps provide your home with warmth in the winter, but they also provide you with cool air in the summer. That means, there’s never a need to turn it off at all. The heat pump is a year-round device that can help you stay comfortable in any season.
Automatic Settings Help Keep You Comfortable
In the Pacific Northwest, the spring months can often feel like four seasons in a day. You’re probably used to dressing in layers and keeping rain gear around, just in case. It can be just as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature indoors as it is outdoors. You may find yourself constantly adjusting the thermostat as the weather moves from sun to rain and back again. The good news is that heat pumps work differently than traditional furnaces, and if you have one, you’ll find that the indoors remain comfortable regardless of what’s going on outside.
Heat pumps use electricity to move heat from cool spaces to warm spaces. Since heat pumps move rather than generate heat, they work well at nearly any temperature. In the winter, heat pumps move warm air from the outside to the indoors. In the spring and summer months, when it’s warmer in your home, the heat pump sucks up the too-warm air and releases it outside, helping to keep the indoors comfortable.
If your heat pump is set to “automatic” it will recognize the shifts in outdoor temperatures and take more or less heat from the outdoor unit which helps to maintain the same temperature inside regardless of the weather’s variability. In other words, if you have a heat pump, your home is already ready for spring.
Leaving Your Heat Pump “On” Is More Efficient
We’re all used to turning things off to save on electricity. It’s undoubtedly counter-intuitive, then, to think about running your heat pump all year in order to increase efficiency. However, that’s exactly what the heat pump is designed for. In fact, newer heat pumps were created to run non-stop if need be. When it’s cold outside (between 20 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit) your heat pump will sometimes cycle off as it reaches a balance point where the heat needed by the home is equal to the heat moved by the pump. That’s not as likely to happen in the warmer months. When it’s warm, your heat pump is likely to run essentially nonstop. Don’t let that unsettle you. The truth is, running your heat pump all year will keep your house more comfortable and can save you a lot on your utility bills, especially compared to air conditioning alone.
Air conditioning works by absorbing heat that passes over its coils and cooling it, using electricity to do so. Heat pumps work a bit differently. Heat pumps also use electricity, but no action is taken to cool air that’s already warm. The heat pump simply moves the warm air out of your home into the outdoors. Because of their energy efficiency of using the air already in your home, having a heat pump can cost approximately one-quarter of the cost of a conventional cooling unit.
Heat Pumps Can Do More Than “Cool”
Spring in the Pacific Northwest can be extremely humid. One of the great things about heat pumps is that they also dehumidify the air by keeping it in constant circulation. When a heat pump is working in cooling mode, it removes moisture from the surrounding air via condensation. This means that you will benefit from a lower overall indoor humidity level, which improves comfort and decreases the warmth you perceive in your home. Some heat pumps even have a “dry mode,” which allows you to use it as a dehumidifier, especially helpful in the rainy spring months.
Heat pumps provide a lot of added efficiency, and new features are being added all the time. For example, heat pumps with a reverse cycle chiller can generate hot and cold water rather than air. This allows them to be used with radiant floor heating systems. You can also increase your ability to efficiently heat the water you use in your home’s sinks and showers by investing in a high-efficiency heat pump. These types of heat pumps are equipped with “desuperheaters.” Desuperheaters recover waste heat from the pump’s cooling process and heats water two to three times more efficiently than electric water heaters.
If you have a larger home, you could benefit from a two-speed compressor, another heat pump option. Unlike standard compressors that operate at full capacity at all times, two-speed compressors allow heat pumps to operate close to the heating or cooling capacity needed, based on the outdoor temperature. Again, this is especially helpful in spring because it saves energy by reducing on/off operation and overall wear.
The reason that those with large homes, in particular, can benefit from a two-speed compressor is that that type of heat pump works well with zone control systems. Zone control systems use automatic dampers to allow the heat pump to keep different rooms at different temperatures, a bonus if there are areas of the house that you use less frequently.
If you’ve already got a heat pump, remember to leave it on. If you’re in the market for something that can make the seasonal transitions a bit easier and your home a lot more efficient, a heat pump may be a great option for you. You can always contact an HVAC specialist like the experts at Entek if you have any questions.