How Does My Heating System Work? (Part 2)

So now you know how a Heat Pump heating system works, after reading Part 1. But your most important question remains unanswered. What’s that? How does this help me? 

Understanding how your Heat Pump system works will help you in two ways: 1) You will understand why regular maintenance is a necessity, not just a luxury; and 2) You will know how to get the most out of every penny you spend in energy costs.

Heat Pump maintenance 

As you’ll recall from Part 1, your heat pump system relies on good airflow in order to work properly. In your home, the air is pulled through a coil to heat up the air. This also means that the dust, lint and hair floating around in the air will also be pulled through the coil, which could completely clog it up in a few months. That’s where your air filter comes in. Regularly replacing the air filter, which protects the coil, is essential to keeping good airflow through the indoor unit. It should be replaced monthly, but might last up to three months. However, please don’t wait until it looks black and dirty. That would be like waiting until you get severe hunger pains before deciding to eat. If you try to save money by skimping on air filters, you will lose much more money on increased energy usage. Click here to read one ouf our previous posts about air filters. 

Even the outdoor unit needs good airflow. Over time it may get clogged up with grass clippings, dirt and leaves. Cleaning the coil on the outdoor unit before each heating season is essential to maintaining good airflow and keeping energy usage down. But please don’t try to do this yourself. It may be tempting to just pull out your garden hose and blast away all the debris you see, but that could do more harm than good. The coil is very delicate and attempting to clean it without proper training will likely damage it.

Lastly, since your heat pump depends on refrigerant to heat your house, it is important that the refrigerant level be correct. Ideally a system should never lose refrigerant. But we don’t live in an ideal world. Imperfections happen in the manufacturing plant, or your neighbor’s kid might accidentally hit your outdoor unit with a soccer ball, loosening a fitting.

It will be worth it to you to call a reputable service company to check out and clean your entire system before each heating season. We can help you with this. We perform system tune-up and safety checks and we guarantee 100% satisfaction on our work. So please call us at (310) 651-6936 to schedule an appointment or click here to use our online request form.

So, what about getting the most out of what you spend on energy costs?

Heat Pump usage tips

Do you remember from Part 1 that we mentioned your heat pump has electrical heating elements? Well, although heat pumps are a very economical way to heat your home they don’t have a reputation for blowing really hot air. Let’s say you were away for a few days so you turned your system off, and you come home to find your home really cold. It would take a long time for the heat pump to make it comfortable. However, the electrical heating elements will kick in to give it a boost. Your thermostat controls this. So any time the temperature in your home is 3 or 4 degrees lower than what you want, the thermostat turns on the electrical heating elements in addition to the heat pump.

So far so good, right? The thing is... electric heating elements are an expensive way to heat your home. You should only want them on when absolutely necessary. This means that to get the most out of your energy costs you shouldn’t raise or lower the temperature on your thermostat too much or too often. Doing so will raise your electric bill since the heating elements will be on more than you really need. Lower the temperature only 2 or 3 degrees at night or while everyone is out of the house for the day. If you will be away for a few days then lowering it more is fine.

And here’s one more related point, bringing us back to the importance of regular maintenance. If your heat pump has a problem that prevents it from running efficiently then it will be struggling to keep the temperature in your home where you want it. But now you know what your thermostat will do, right? It will see that the heat pump can’t keep up and turn on the electrical heating elements. So by neglecting maintenance on your heat pump, you could see electric bills that are twice or three times more than what you are used to seeing.

Now for those of you patiently waiting, with a Hot Air Furnace, don’t go too far! Part 3 is coming up! (Update: You can now read Part 3 here!)

Do you have a question about any of this? Visit our “Ask an Expert” page and ask away!

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