Winter is right around the corner. In Northeast Ohio, that means temperatures will fall and utility bills will rise. A heat pump is an effective way to provide consistent and reliable heat to your home or business while also reducing your energy use and lowering your utility bill.

Whether you’re considering a heat pump or already own one, it’s important to know how to set up your home heating system to maximize your heat pump’s efficiency. The first step is to find the balance point of your heat pump. The balance point is the lowest outdoor temperature at which the heat pump can fully meet your home’s heating needs. At any temperature below the balance point, a backup heating source must be used, either incorporated into the heat pump or as a stand-alone source.

The balance point is a function of the heat pump’s capacity and your home’s weatherization. Higher capacity pumps can provide more heat at lower temperatures. Similarly, if your home is insulated and sealed well, the heat pump will be able to heat the home at a lower outdoor temperature.

Why is it important to maximize the use of the heat pump? A measurement called coefficient of performance, or COP, can tell you how efficient your heat source is at converting electricity into heat. Traditional furnaces have a COP of one. Heat pumps have COP ratings of two to four, which means they are two to four times more efficient than furnaces. That efficiency is usually reflected in lower utility bills (unless natural gas prices get so low that it’s still cheaper to operate a relatively inefficient furnace than the heat pump).

Weatherizing is one way to lower the balance point of your heat pump. There is, however, another way. In many thermostats, you can set the temperature at which you would like the backup source to turn on. By setting that temperature low, you limit the use of the inefficient backup electric heating element and maximize the heat pump’s use. While the process of setting the thermostat can be complicated, it is helpful in increasing efficiency.

For more information on heat pumps and how to maximize their use, please contact us at Stack Heating & Cooling. We have proudly served the Greater Cleveland area since 1976.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about heat pumps and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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