Prep Your Home for Heat Pump Installation and Ensure Peak Performance
Heat pumps are extremely efficient sources of indoor heating and cooling. If you've made the decision to proceed with a new heat pump installation or upgrade, you've selected an effective and economical source of indoor comfort that will save you significant amounts on your monthly energy expenses.
Heat pump installation requires some research and planning, along with preparation of your home, to ensure that you get the best system performance, the highest level of efficiency, and the greatest amount of ongoing monetary savings.
Function of Heat Pumps
The basic function of a heat pump involves capturing heat and moving it from place to place. This process requires a refrigerant that's circulated through the indoor and outdoor components of the system. When providing heating, the liquid refrigerant in the outdoor coils evaporates into a gas and extracts heat from its surroundings. The gaseous refrigerant is moved into the indoor coils, where it's pressurized and returned to liquid form. During this process, the refrigerant releases the heat it contains. The heat is then distributed by air handling equipment that sends it through the ductwork to points throughout your home. When cooling is required, a reversing valve activates and causes the refrigerant to flow in the opposite direction. Heat is removed from your indoor spaces and dispersed through the outdoor coils.
Types of Heat Pumps
There are three main types of heat pumps you can use for your home or business.
- Air-source heat pumps use the indoor and outdoor coils to absorb and release heat from the air surrounding the system's components. This type of heat pump installation can pull heat from even cold winter air and bring it into your home.
- Ground-source heat pumps, also known as geothermal heat pumps, absorb and expend heat through a system of refrigerant-containing pipes buried in the ground. The pipes are placed at a depth where the ground temperature stays consistent all year long, usually around 50 degrees. The soil surrounding the pipes makes for an extremely efficient medium for heat capture and release.
- Water-source heat pumps work much the same as ground-source systems, but the refrigerant pipes are placed in a well, pond, lake, aquifer or other body of water where the temperature stays consistent throughout the seasons.
Preparation for Heat Pump Installation
As you research your options and prepare your home for heat pump installation, rely on your local trusted HVAC contractor to assist you with all phases of the process, from system selection to installation and activation.
- Decide what type of heat pump to install. If you have sufficient available ground space or a water source, a geothermal heat pump installation could be your best choice. If space is limited, a standard air-source heat pump may be the better option.
- Choose a high-efficiency system. Look for a heat pump system with high efficiency ratings. Heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) ratings indicate the unit's efficiency at heating, while seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) numbers show its cooling efficiency. Higher numbers mean greater efficiency. To get the best efficiency, choose a heat pump with an HSPF between 8 and 10 and a SEER between 14 and 18.
- Select a properly-sized system. Your heat pump must be properly sized with enough performance capacity to provide the amount of heating and cooling your home needs. Ask your HVAC contractor to perform a load calculation on your home to find out how much conditioned air you need. When you know this number, you'll be able to avoid undersized or oversized heat pumps.
- Improve home energy efficiency. Seal air leaks in your home to improve energy efficiency and stop the wasteful loss of conditioned air. Apply weather stripping to windows and doors, caulk around window panes, caulk or seal cracks and gaps in the building frame, add insulation and put draft-blocking rubber flaps on the bottoms of doors.
- Tend to the ductwork. Have your contractor inspect the ductwork and test for air leaks. The ductwork should be correctly sized to properly distribute the air produced by the heat pump. Make sure that all sections are tightly connected, well sealed and in good condition. Seal connections between sections with mastic, a specialized sealant used on ductwork, and insulate the ductwork with rigid fiberboard or standard roll insulation. If necessary, have your contractor replace incorrectly sized ductwork.
- Add return registers. Return registers and the attached ducts bring expended air back to the heat pump to be heated or cooled again before redistribution. Have your HVAC contractor add a return register in every room of your home.
In Chicago, Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan, Comfort24-7 is a leading source of heating and cooling system sales, installation and repair. Contact us today for more information on the benefits of heat pumps and expert advice on how to prepare your home for heat pump installation.