As much as it’s been heralded as the cutting edge of advanced heating and cooling technology, the underlying principle behind the operation of the heat pump is actually quite simple. Using the same basic mechanism that a refrigerator uses, heat pumps transfer heat energy from one place to another.
So, during the winter, they heat the home by drawing in ambient heat energy from the outdoor environment. During the summer, they can switch into cooling mode and use the same method to transfer heat from the inside to the outside. Of course, the hotter it is outside, the more heat there will be inside, and the harder your heat pump will have to work to accomplish the job of cooling down your home.
Forcing your heat pump to work harder than it would otherwise have to will reduce its lifespan, as well as drive up your overall energy costs. This can defeat the purpose of having a heat pump in the first place, as their famous energy efficiency is a major selling point for users. The good news is, you can help your unit out a little. Follow these tips to improve your heat pump cooling efficiency in hot weather:
Don’t Make Your Heat Pump Work Too Hard
Your heat pump operates by communicating with a thermostat, which you set to your desired temperature. When the temperature gets higher than your preferred setting, the heat pump will switch on and begin cooling the air. It will continue to do this until the correct temperature is achieved, and will then cycle off until the indoor temperature once again begins to creep back up.
Of course, if the temperature you set your heat pump at is too dramatically different from the outdoor temperature, you will cause your heat pump to have to work harder than it would otherwise need to and reduce its overall efficiency. It’s a good idea to keep the temperature setting at around 80 degrees, which should be sufficient to keep you comfortable even during the hottest days.
Fix Any Leaks in Your Insulation
If your home is insulated effectively, the temperature will remain at a comfortable level for a longer period before your heat pump has to go back to work. However, any flaws in the insulation will allow outdoor air to seep in, raising the indoor temperature and forcing your heat pump to cycle on and off more frequently. In turn, this will reduce its energy efficiency and drive up your monthly utility bill. You can avoid this problem and increase the overall efficiency of the heat pump by performing a regular inspection of the insulation in your home.
An inspection means making sure that the foam insulation in your attic hasn’t degraded and checking to make sure the seals around your doors and windows haven’t worn away. If they have, a quick repair job can often work wonders for your energy bill during the heat of the summer.
Make Sure the Air in Your Home Can Circulate Effectively
If you’ve ever spent any time inside of a poorly ventilated building, you know that the comfort level of one room can vary dramatically compared to the next. Often, this is because, while the HVAC system itself is operating just fine, the air itself is not being allowed to circulate effectively. This means that the cooled air from the heat pump will be blocked in one place, rather than being allowed to spread to every corner of the home. This usually means that the homeowners will continuously lower the thermostat, trying to get the whole building to a comfortable level at the cost of overtaxing their heat pump.
Ensuring that the air in your home is able to circulate effectively can dramatically improve your heat pump cooling efficiency in hot weather. You can do so by removing any obstructions that are near the vents or the device itself, such as large pieces of furniture. You should also attempt to position your heat pump in an area where the airflow will have a clear path through nearby doors so that it can spread to the whole home, as opposed to a corner somewhere where the air will not flow as freely.
Regularly Clean the Heat Pump Itself
Of course, the thing that is impeding the airflow from your heat pump may not actually be an external obstruction: sometimes, the energy efficiency is reduced by something within. For example, your heat pump has built-in filters to catch dust and other particulate matter. This prevents it from blowing dust everywhere when it’s operating, but over time, these filters will become more and more saturated with dust and dirt until they become blocked entirely.
You can improve your heat pump’s efficiency by cleaning or replacing these filters on a regular basis. Once or twice a year is usually best. If you wait too long, you risk not only compromising the effectiveness of the heat pump, but also increasing your susceptibility to allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions related to a dusty environment.
Have a Professional Perform Yearly Checkups
Even if you’ve done everything you can to improve your heat pump cooling efficiency in hot weather, making sure that you have a well-insulated home with a clear path for airflow, your heat pump is still bound to gradually lose efficiency over time. This is simply a consequence of normal wear and tear on the unit. However, regular maintenance can reduce this buildup of damage and keep your heat pump at peak efficiency for much longer, even during especially hot weather.
Regular maintenance can also greatly reduce the chances of your heat pump failing to work when it needs to. The last thing you want is a failure of your HVAC system during one of the hottest days of summer. Asking a certified professional from a company such as Entek HVAC to perform an inspection and go through a repair checklist at least once a year will do a great deal to extend the overall lifespan of your heat pump and ensure that it operates effectively for many years.