If you’re considering a new heat pump, you can look forward to a more comfortable home year round, as well as saving energy and money on your monthly utility costs. Most homeowners here in the Garden City, Tremont Park and Savannah areas are pleasantly surprised at all the benefits their new heat pumps provide. To ensure that you join this happy group, get your home ready for the new comfort system before it is installed.
Understanding basic heat pump function
During hot weather, heat pumps function like a traditional cooling system. Your heat pump will absorb excess heat from the air in your home and transfer it outside. In winter, the system operates in reverse and may switch to a back-up heating source on the coldest days/nights. Specific models offer enhanced energy efficiency and convenience with features like variable speed motors, advanced compressor design and more.
Prepare your home
Make sure you get the most out of your investment in a new heat pump by prepping your home in advance, with help and advice from your HVAC contractor:
Seal your envelope. Make your home as airtight as possible so that your new heating system won’t have to work harder than necessary. Once well-sealed, your home will have a lower energy load, and you may be able to purchase a smaller heat pump. In addition, have your installer inspect your duct runs. He may find opportunities to shorten your runs, thereby increasing efficiency and air distribution. Take these steps for a tighter seal:
- Increase your home’s energy-efficiency with proper insulation.
- Add energy-efficient windows.
- Eliminate any air leaks around electrical outlets or plumbing/appliance pipe openings in your walls.
- Insulate your ducts if they are not being replaced/enlarged. Aim for a thermal resistance level of R-8. This is especially important for ducts outside your home’s conditioned space, such as an unfinished attic or basement.
- Insulate your hot water tank. Consider a new water heater for increased energy savings.
Quiz your installer
Make sure your HVAC contractor is planning to:
- Get an accurate load calculation. Your contractor should use the detailed methods outlined by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. A rough estimate is not good enough. Your technician should take detailed measurements of the rooms in your home. He should also factor in the layout of your home, its construction, number of residents, unique family needs and usage patterns, number of windows and their location.
- Evaluate duct sizing to make sure the ducts can properly distribute conditioned air at proper airflow rates.
- Check return air registers/grilles to be sure the size and quantity are adequate. The goal is balanced airflow to and from your new heat pump. Ideally there should be a grille in every room.
- Choose an area for your heat pump’s outdoor unit on the north side of the house, or at least select a shady location. A 10-foot area must be cleared (and kept clear) around the proposed location, with no obstruction at the sides or top.
- Measure duct leakage, and bring it under 10 percent of your system’s total airflow. Air leakage of 5 percent or below is possible if a new duct system is being installed or a retrofit is called for. The duct system should be sealed against heat loss before a truly energy-efficient installation is considered complete.
- Avoid building-cavity ducts, which are prone to large leaks and often lead to a compromise in home comfort, inefficient energy usage and moisture/humidity issues.
- Explain how new heat pumps work in detail: Ask your installer to explain when the unit will switch to auxiliary heating on the coldest winter days. Find out what type of back-up heating options are recommended to maintain home comfort and minimize energy consumption and energy bills. Ask for a comparison/outline of advanced feature options.
At Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning, we invite you to bring your heat pump questions to us. Let us put our years of experience–combined with the most up-to-date product knowledge–to work, ensuring your home comfort and energy savings. Visit our website to learn more about our services, or just give us a call.