It’s no secret that the Earth is heating up. But what exactly does that mean, and how can you help to stop it? And why would anyone even want to do that in the first place?
Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a heat pump, and how does one work? A heat pump uses an external source of energy, usually electricity from the grid, to create a controlled amount of heat inside your home. This heat then circulates through your home and back outside again, keeping you comfortable while saving money on your utility bills.
As our planet warms, we all need to be prepared for the potential impacts on our homes, families, and communities. If you’re interested in learning more about how to protect yourself against these impacts, or if you’re just curious about Soojuspumbad saaremaal (Heat pumps in Saaremaa), here are some answers.
What Is a Heat Pump?
In essence, a heat pump is a heat engine that operates in the opposite direction. A heat pump, then, is a machine that transfers heat energy to a thermal reservoir. By absorbing heat from a cold area and releasing it to one that is warmer, they are frequently used to transfer thermal energy.
A heat pump is a device that generates a large amount of heat using an energy source like electricity. It works by transferring thermal energy from one location (usually an outdoor air space) to another (inside your home). The process is called “heat pumping.”
The most common form of heat pumps use refrigerant and compressors to accomplish this task. They operate much like a refrigerator, but instead of cooling off food, they cool down air. As the name implies, they’re used to move heat out of a room.
Heat pumps have two basic components: an evaporator coil (or “evaporator”) and a condenser coil (or “condenser”). The evaporator coils draw cold air into the unit, where it absorbs heat through conduction. After leaving the evaporator coil, the warm air passes over the condenser coil, which releases this heat back into the building.
Since the condensers are designed to release heat, they also require an air flow to make sure they stay cool enough for proper operation. Some heat pump models include a fan as part of their design, allowing them to function without an additional air blower.
How Do Heat Pumps Work?
There are three main types of heat pumps. Each type has its own unique method of working; however, the overall concept remains the same.
Radiant Cooling Systems: Radiant cooling systems use a combination of hot water and mirrors to transfer solar power into the home. The water heats the home’s walls and floors, which allows the sun to radiate heat into the home. Because radiant systems only use a small portion of the solar spectrum, there’s typically not enough solar radiation to keep your home comfortable during peak summer hours. However, they offer the benefit of being able to generate heat at night when solar radiation is minimal.
Electrolysis Cooling Systems: Electrolysis cooling systems use electrical energy to produce hydrogen gas. The hydrogen gas then heats the home’s walls and floors, creating a temperature differential between the inside and outside of the home. Like radiant cooling systems, electrolytic cooling systems require a high level of electrical power to maintain optimal comfort levels throughout the year.
Mechanical Air Conditioning Systems: Mechanical air conditioning systems use fans to circulate cooled air within the home. Fans are also used to push air within the house away from windows and doors, preventing heat gain in the summer and reducing drafts in the winter. Mechanical systems may also include supplemental heating elements to increase the heating capacity of the system. These additional heating elements allow mechanical systems to maintain higher temperatures than other forms of air conditioning.
How Much Energy Do Heat Pumps Use?
The efficiency rating (EER) indicates the amount of energy required to operate a heat pump. EERs range from 3.0 to 4.5. The lower the number, the better the efficiency. For example, if an electric heater requires 10 watts to produce 1 BTU/hour, it has an EER of 10. On the other hand, a 10-gallon propane tank can hold 100 BTUs of energy.
In theory, this means that you’d need to burn 100 gallons of propane to get the same amount of heat output as a single electric heater. In practice, however, both of these units will run continuously for long periods of time. Therefore, it makes sense to use the smaller propane tank for longer periods of time.
How Much Money Can You Save With a Heat Pump?
Your average annual utility bill can add up quickly. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, an efficient heat pump can save $200 per month, or $2,400 annually. That’s not bad.
If you live in colder climates, you’ll experience significantly larger savings. During the winter months, many people spend more than half of their monthly income on heating costs. Heat pumps can reduce those bills by up to 90 percent.
You can expect to see similar savings if you live somewhere else, too. The average energy cost for heating a home in California is $1,000 per month. Replacing your standard furnace with an efficient heat pump could cut that figure in half.
Of course, this assumes that you have access to an efficient heat pump. If you don’t, you might not see any significant savings. To learn more about the best heat pumps available today, check out the links below.
What Are Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems?
A geothermal heat pump is a type of heat pump that uses the earth itself to perform the task of moving heat around your home. Instead of generating heat, a geothermal heat pump pulls heat from the ground. Since geothermal systems are located underground, they’re often referred to as “ground” or “earth” heat pumps.
Instead of operating on a continuous basis, geothermal systems only operate when necessary. When homeowners turn on their appliances, they cause the system to pump heat into the home. This heat then circulates throughout the house via pipes or ductwork.
Some experts believe that geothermal systems could be the future of residential heating and cooling, since they can tap into the Earth’s natural warmth to heat and cool homes without relying on fossil fuels.
However, since geothermal technology still lags behind traditional methods, it’s important to understand the pros and cons before investing your hard-earned cash.
For more information on geothermal systems, check out the links below.
Is Your Home Ready for a Heat Pump?
While many homeowners are interested in installing heat pumps, few actually take steps to ensure that their houses are ready for them. The good news is that heat pumps aren’t difficult to install and are simple to set up. Follow these tips to prepare your home prior to installation.
Install New Insulation Before Installing a Heat Pump
Insulation is critical to the performance of any heat pump. Without adequate insulation, you won’t be able to fully realize the benefits of your new appliance.
Check your attic and basement to find out whether or not they’re properly insulated. If they’re not, you should consider adding new insulation as soon as possible.
Make Sure All Windows and Doors Open to the Outside
Many homeowners fail to notice that they’ve installed double-paned windows and doors. Double-paned windows and doors prevent heat from escaping into the home, so make sure that yours open to the outdoors.
Installing a Heat Pump Isn’t Difficult
Most heat pumps are simple to install and operate. Here are five things to know before you begin.
Choose the Right Type of Heat Pump
Different heat pumps have different energy requirements. Make sure that you choose a model that matches your needs.
Measure the Size of Your House
Before you purchase a new appliance, it’s always helpful to measure your existing home. Make sure that you purchase a heat pump that will fit comfortably in your home.
Schedule Installation Time
Even though heat pumps are easy to install, they still require professional attention. Schedule your appointment well ahead of time to avoid last-minute delays.
Don’t Forget About Electrical Service
Installing a heat pump isn’t complete until you connect it to your local electrical service provider. Check with your local utility company to ensure that they provide electrical service near your house.
Don’t Forget About Plumbing
It’s a good idea to schedule plumbing services at the same time as your installation. If you plan on replacing your old boiler, make sure that you include a plumber who specializes in gas piping to ensure that your new appliance functions correctly.
Don’t Overlook Safety
Safety is an essential concern for every homeowner. Before you install your new appliance, make sure that you consult with a professional regarding safety issues.
Learn More About Other Ways to Lower Utility Bills
If you’re looking for ways to lower your utility bills, try switching from energy-guzzling incandescent bulbs to LED lights. They consume less energy, making them more affordable than conventional lightbulbs.