If you’ve been in the market for a new HVAC system for your Vancouver, BC, home or business, chances are you’ve considered a heat pump. However, you may have hesitated to choose one for fear that it could send your electricity usage skyrocketing. But heat pumps are actually one of the most efficient forms of HVAC you can buy. Discover more about heat pumps, how they work, and why they’re widely considered the most energy-efficient heating and cooling option on the market.
What Is a Heat Pump?
Unfortunately, when people learn that a heat pump runs on electricity, they naturally assume that this type of system automatically leads to higher monthly utility bills. That’s because conventional electric heating systems like electric furnaces cost quite a bit to operate in colder climates like the one in Vancouver. But a heat pump is nothing like a conventional electric heating system. Mechanically, they’re almost indistinguishable from air conditioners, except that they can run in reverse.
In the winter, a heat pump uses the refrigeration cycle to manipulate the pressure of a refrigerant to collect heat energy from the outside air. It then amplifies that energy and carries it inside to heat your home or business. It’s a process that’s nothing like what an electric furnace does. Those use electric resistance heating elements to convert electricity directly into heat.
Heat pumps rely on this combination of compressors and refrigeration to generate warmer air during winter. As a result, a heat pump can be as much as 400% efficient under the right circumstances. That’s more than four times the efficiency of even the best gas furnace on the market today. But because electricity tends to cost more than natural gas, it isn’t exactly wrong to worry about high electricity bills with a heat pump.
Heat Pump Energy Usage
Like all other HVAC systems, the amount of energy a heat pump will use depends on a variety of factors. The first is the efficiency of the unit itself. If you buy a high-efficiency heat pump, it will use less electricity than one that’s minimally efficient. And second, the size of your heat pump also plays a role in its electricity usage. So, if your home or building needs a 4-ton heat pump, it will cost significantly more to operate than a 1-ton model.
Although different heat pumps will use different amounts of electricity, you can rely on some figures that represent the average heat pump in the average building. An average heat pump in an average building will use about 5,475 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. Assuming that your per-kWh electricity cost is around 11.50 cents, that would mean a heat pump would cost you about $630 per year to operate. That’s just a little more than $50 each month to heat and cool your home or business year-round.
Things That Increase Heat Pump Energy Usage
There are, of course, a variety of things that can cause a heat pump to use far more electricity than the average. One of the most common among those things is poor insulation in your home or commercial building. Heat pumps, unlike furnaces, don’t generate extremely hot air in the winter. With a gas furnace, you can expect air that’s between 60 and 76 degrees Celsius coming from your vents in the winter. With a heat pump, however, you’d get air that’s between 43 and 46 degrees Celsius.
As a result, a heat pump works best when it runs continuously to maintain your desired indoor temperature. However, if you use a heat pump in a building that has poor insulation, it may struggle to do its job. Then, your electricity bills would climb as the heat pump tried to overcome the insulation-related heat losses. The good news is that installing additional insulation and using things like caulking and weatherstripping around doors and windows can help stop heat losses and bring your heat pump’s operating costs down.
Another common problem that may lead to heat pump inefficiency is leaky ductwork. This happens when your ducts develop air leaks or when they allow convective losses due to inadequate insulation. The average ducted HVAC system can waste up to 30% of the energy it consumes in this way, and heat pumps are no exception. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have your ducts inspected and repaired before you have your heat pump installed. That way, you can enjoy your new heat pump operating at maximum efficiency from the start.
Your thermostat can also affect the energy usage of your heat pump. At a minimum, you will want a modern thermostat that allows you to set heating and cooling schedules to pair with your heat pump. Ideally, you should install a smart thermostat to take maximum advantage of the efficiency that a new heat pump has to offer.
Finally, how you maintain your heat pump will also play a determinative role in how much electricity it uses. Heat pumps require regular maintenance to keep working efficiently. Generally speaking, a heat pump will need bi-annual maintenance visits, with one before each cooling season and one before each heating season.
When one of our HVAC technicians visits your home or business for a heat pump maintenance visit, they’ll thoroughly inspect your whole system to see that it’s in peak condition. They’ll check your system’s refrigerant to make sure it’s at the proper level. They’ll also clean the inner workings of your system and lubricate its moving parts. If any components show signs of unusual wear and tear or are on the verge of failing, they’ll let you know so you can take prompt corrective action. They’ll even check your thermostat to make sure it’s properly configured to keep your heat pump operating at maximum efficiency. And if it isn’t, they’ll fix the problem and give you some pointers on maximizing your comfort without wasting electricity.
Vancouver Heat Pump Specialists
When used properly, heat pumps are the most efficient and inexpensive way to heat and cool your Vancouver home or business. But you will need a heat pump expert to help you choose the right system and to install and maintain it for you. Western Pacific Heating, Cooling & Airflow is that expert. We offer complete HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair services throughout the Vancouver area. Plus, we handle both residential and commercial heating and cooling systems. We also offer air purification solutions to help you ensure that your indoor air is fresh and healthy at all times. We can even help you navigate and secure the many rebates that you might qualify for when you install a new heat pump. When you’re replacing a gas furnace with a heat pump, those rebates can total between $13,000 and $17,000, which might pay for your entire upgrade!
So, when you need a heat pump installed in Vancouver, call our team of experts at Western Pacific Heating, Cooling & Airflow right away for help.