The amount of money that can be saved by installing a heat pump can be calculated using mathematics. However, the factors surrounding the actual heat pump become important to your overall savings of money. Conserving money and investing in efficient uses of electricity are what everyone talks about. But, the ability to change a lifestyle to save more money is a tougher thing to do.
Consider the following when installing a heat pump and your overall consumption of energy will decrease over time. Heat the parts of your home that are most often used. If you will make a decision to only heat the areas you are using, you will save money. Make an adjustment in your mind and body in regard to how low you can set the ambient temperature of your dwelling. Begin to think about heating yourself as opposed to heating a large space. Use warm clothing, put more rugs down on the floor, and turn the thermostat down to 67F or even lower. Colder temperatures produce alertness and a sense of awareness.
Insulate your walls, floors, and basement and prevent heat from escaping through various kinds of openings in these areas such as crevasses, cracks, and seams. Your goal is to pay for the heating of your home, and not the atmosphere outside.
When you are making the plans for your home or initiating an upgrade, don’t oversize it. Get the heating system that the square feet and design of your home requires. Choose a form of central heat that is efficient from the start. Central heat is more expensive overall than using space/radiant heaters. So, think about using these kinds of heaters in rooms where you spend a good deal of time.
A geothermal system is less expensive than central heating systems. However, they also have the highest initial cost for installation. Gas or oil based systems are the least expensive to install. They are the most dangerous and potentially unhealthy for family members. Electric systems are less expensive to install, but end up costing a good deal of money over the seasons of the year.
It is important to understand that air source heat pumps are three times more efficient than those pumps manufactured 30 years ago. Advances have been made using expansion valves, variable speed blowers, coil design, electric motor enhancements, two speed compressor designs and more efficient design of copper tubing.
Heat pumps come with an energy guide label. On this label is the pumps heating and cooling efficiency rating compared to other models currently being sold. An air source heat pumps efficiency rating in regard to heating is expressed in terms of the total space needing heat expressed in Btus. This number is divided by the electrical energy consumed by the pump and is expressed in watt-hours. The most efficient pumps have an HSPF between 8 and 11.
The cooling efficiency of a pump is expressed as the SEER. This is the total heat removed from the space in Btus divided by the electrical energy used in watt-hours. The higher the SEER, the higher the initial cost. However, A new central heat pump registering at a SEER-12 replacing a 30 year old pump SEER-6 will use half of the energy to provide the same degree of cooling. This can cut energy consumption in half.
Energy Star heat pumps must qualify for this label by having a SEER of at least 12 or greater and an HSPF of 7 or greater. In warmer climates, such as the one here in Alabama, the SEER rating is more important than the HSPF rating. In colder climates, a higher HSPF is needed.
Other considerations to think about when assessing how much money you can save with a heat pump include choosing a heat pump with a demand-defrost control. This will minimize defrost cycles, thus lowering your energy bill. The efficiency of a heat pump is impacted by the location of the outside unit. Your unit should be protected from high winds. High winds have been proven to cause defrosting issues.
In terms of overall performance, a heat pump’s efficiency is decreased by low airflow, incorrect refrigerant charge and leaky ducts. For every ton of air conditioning capacity, there should be 400-500 cubic feet per minute of airflow. Professional installers/technicians can increase airflow by modifying the ductwork, increasing the fan speed or cleaning the evaporator.
Current Rates, Usage, and Possible Savings
Alabama Power has set the current rate for a family dwelling for a kWh and this can be seen at http://www.alabamapower.com/residential/pricing-rates/standard-rate-family-dwelling.asp.
The rates are divided into summer and winter rates. Summer is from June-Sept and winter is Oct-May. The first 1000 kWh during the summer costs 0.084232. Everything over 1000 kWh is 0.086761. During the winter the first 1000 kWh are 0.084232 and anything over that is 0.072232.
Now, lets’ plug in a few numbers and see what you can generally save with a heat pump. If the cost during the winter for the first 1000 kWh is 0.084232 and the Btus are 3412 and the system efficiency is 400% with a distribution efficiency of 80% combined with an Energy Star heat pump. You will pay approximately $843.00 in electrical energy to heat your home.
You may use the calculator located at http://www.efficiencymaine.com/at-home/home-energy-savings-program/heating-cost-comparison/ to do your own price comparison based on the type of heat pump you have and your source of energy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Don Johnson is the President of Freedom Heating and Cooling in Birmingham, Alabama which offers home owners tools including: “9 Things to Check Before Calling for Service on Your Air Conditioner or Furnace”, a resource to help home owners save on HVAC problems “The Home Owner’s Guide to Hiring a Heating and Air Conditioning Company“, a quick read on how to guarantee you never suffer by hiring the wrong contractor.
“The Ultimate Home Owner’s Guide to Designing an HVAC System“ , a 59-page eBook covering the 9 steps to building a Complete Home Comfort System. Find More free eBooks at www.FreedomHvacAL.com or contact him at 205-444-4444 or connect on facebook, LinkedIn or Google +