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Quick Guide to Successful Heat Pump Operation

Heat pumps are slightly different from traditional heating systems. Using a heat pump should save money in the form of reduced energy bills. Purchase and installation costs may be higher for a heat pump that for an electric furnace; however, the reduced utility bills for a heat pump should provide an overall dollar savings. The following information addresses typical user concerns and gives suggestions for ways to run a heat pump efficiently.

Set the thermostat and forget it

  1. Determine both a heating and cooling setting you find comfortable and stick with them. Do not develop a habit of adjusting the settings.
  2. Do not manually set back the temperature every night.
  3. Some heat pump thermostats have a night setback. For those models, do not program the night setback temperature below 55°F.
  4. Make sure your setting for cooling is at least 10°F above your setting for heating.
  5. If the supplemental or auxiliary heat runs often when the temperature outside is above 40°F, get a technician to install an outdoor thermostat and/or an intelligent recovery indoor thermostat.

Outdoor unit may have ice

Ice on the outdoor unit followed by a cloud of water vapor actually is normal operation in humid weather around 25°F to 45°F. The unit is in its defrost cycle.

Change air filters regularly

  1. Follow instructions in the owner’s manual for the correct filter type and schedule for replacement or cleaning.
  2. Make sure the unit has a filter at all times.

Delivered air at the registers may seem cool

The air at the vents may seem cooler than air from traditional heating systems. This is normal for a heat pump, especially as it gets colder outside.

High run time is OK

Heat pumps run a good deal longer than conventional furnaces, especially when it’s cold outside. This is normal.

Do not block registers

  1. Do not restrict airflow by closing off air vents in the system.
  2. Leave the vents open, even in rooms that are used occasionally.
  3. Do not cover vents with furniture or rugs.

Keep outdoor unit breathing free

Always keep debris away from the outdoor unit so it has plenty of room for air circulation.

Get ducts sealed

Have an HVAC technician inspect any ducts located outside or in the crawlspace or attic and seal where necessary. Duct sealing is a smart move and required only once.

Schedule annual maintenance

Have a heat pump service technician perform annual maintenance on your heat pump in the summer. This service may include:

  1. Coil and fan cleaning
  2. Refrigerant charge and pressure check/adjustment
  3. Electrical check
  4. Starting and running amperage tests on all motors
  5. Auxiliary element test
  6. Lubrication
  7. Belt tension test (if necessary)