Heat Pump Installation Advice for Homeowners
By Rachel Kopp of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing
Instead of separate units to heat and cool your home, heat pumps do both in one unit. They are about 30 to 40 percent more efficient than baseboard systems and furnaces and use electricity as the main energy source. Other types of heat pumps are air to air, water source, and geothermal. Typically, installations are above ground; however, geothermal heat pumps are underground. Your HVAC contractor will choose a location that is suitable for the type of heat pump.
Follow these tips and your system will give you years of uninterrupted service. Hire a licensed and bonded HVAC contractor with experience installing heat pumps. It is important to choose a location carefully for the best results.
Home Energy Audits
Before installing a heat pump, it is a good idea to have a whole-house energy audit performed. Make sure the HVAC contractor participates in the Energy Star’s national Home Performance Evaluation Program. The United States Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency developed the program to help homeowners increase system efficiency, indoor comfort, and protect the environment simultaneously.
A technician or energy expert performs a comprehensive evaluation of your home’s windows, doors and door frames, walls, and roof. In addition, the technician inspects the HVAC system’s ductwork for leaks, damage, and gaps. In order to get an accurate assessment of energy loss from your home, advanced technological equipment shows where heated and cooled air is escaping. Infrared cameras or video cameras capture heat loss and records them as images. Blower door equipment attaches to the front and rear doors of your home, which measures the air exchange rate and energy loss.
After the audit, the technician will give you a detailed report outlining suggestions for improving energy efficiency. Often, a report recommends that you insulate the attic and garage.
Proper insulation significantly decreases energy loss from a home.
Insulate your attic and you significantly lower annual energy costs because attics cover the largest area of your home. Adding insulation to the wall studs and floor joists of an attic balances moisture levels and temperatures throughout the year.
Whether a contractor installs a water source or geothermal heat pump, increase efficiency and save on energy costs by installing a programmable thermostat at the time of the heat pump installation. As an example, program the air conditioning temperature higher during the day when you are not home, and turn the system off at night.
Preventative Maintenance Agreements
Installing an energy-efficient heat pump is only part of the equation.
Scheduled maintenance reduces repair costs, system breakdowns, and excessive wear and tear on moving parts. A certified technician should perform two maintenance checkups and one tune up per year. Most HVAC manufacturers void their equipment warranties on systems without proper maintenance.
Replace Air Filters
Clogged and dirty air filters cause system malfunctions and breakdowns. Additionally, it is the one home maintenance tip that is easy to do. Change the filter once a month for better system efficiency and cleaner air. You save on replacement costs when you purchase an electrostatic air filter because you wash and replace it instead of throwing it away.