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Heating & Air News

Heat Pump Buying Guide

Posted by Howell's Heating & Air on October 24, 2017

RVA Heat Pump Guide.jpg

How Many Estimates Should I Get?
(And Other Commonly Asked Questions)

If you’re in the market for a heat pump, there are a few things you should keep in mind before settling on a vendor. First and foremost, don’t just go with the first company that gives you an estimate (even if that’s us!). You owe it to yourself to explore a few of the heat & air companies in the area.

How Many Heat Pump Estimates Should I Get?

It really does depend on your situation. If you have a long-standing relationship with a company that you trust, one estimate could be enough, but for most people, we recommend that you consider getting about three estimates. Cost is usually at the top of most people's list, but there are other factors to consider.

The guy selling heat pumps out of his garage might be a bit cheaper than these reputable companies, but upfront cost savings like that can end up costing more in the long run. Think about ongoing maintenance, SEER ratings, equipment life expectancy, the reputation of the equipment, warranties, and accountability of the person doing the work.

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Which Heat Pump Manufacturer Is the Best?

HVAC Units.jpgWe have a separate article on the best heat pump manufacturers on the market.

Most HVAC companies work with a few different manufacturers and sell a range of different heat pump models, brands, and sizes. Surprisingly, there are only a handful of HVAC manufacturers, which operate under about 150 different names.

Best Heat Pump Manufacturers:

  • Carrier (Owns Bryant, Payne and Tempstar)
  • Lennox (Owns Ducane, Armstrong, Concord, Allied and AirEase)
  • Rheem (Owns Ruud)
  • Trane (Owns American Standard)
  • Goodman (Owns Amana and Janitrol)
  • York (Owns Coleman and Luxaire)
  • Nortek Global (Makes Maytag, Westinghouse, Frigidaire, Kelvinator and more)

Source: http://www.consumersearch.com/central-air-conditioners/brands-vs-brands

What Do Heat Pumps Have that Other Heaters Don’t?

HVAC in the Snow.jpgHeat Pumps generate affordable heat in the winter and efficient cool air during the summertime. And, it’s less expensive to run a heat pump than most of the alternative heating methods on the market, such as gas or oil furnaces.

Though heat pumps in this region need an auxiliary heat source for a few months out of the year, the overall energy savings from using a heat pump are well worth the investment. And, if you already have a Central AC, replacing that system with a heat pump is much easier than you might think.

Can a Heat Pump Thermostat Be Adjusted Like Other Heating Systems?

You can adjust the heat settings of a heat pump, but constantly changing the thermostat setting tends to create inefficiencies and can be taxing on the system. Increasing the thermostat setting by just 2° F can cause a significant increase in energy consumption. We recommend that Richmond homeowners pick a setting that is comfortable and leave the thermostat alone.

Can Programmable Thermostats Improve Efficiency?

Programmable Thermostat-1.jpgMany of the homeowners that purchase a heat pump in Richmond VA assume their programmable thermostat will help them save energy. While, we highly recommend using a programmable thermostat, it’s important to only use programmable thermostats that have been specifically designed for use with a heat pump.

How to Use a Programmable Heat Pump Thermostat

To save energy with a heat pump in winter, reduce the thermostat temperature at night, while at work, or while out of town for vacation. Then program the thermostat to increase temperatures when you’ll be at home and actively moving around the house. Use the opposite approach during summer months.

Are Heat Pump Systems an Economical Way to Heat & Cool a Richmond Home?

If you live in Richmond, Henrico, Hanover, Chesterfield, or the surrounding area, you’ve probably wondered, are electric heat pumps considered efficient and cost effective for our area? The answer is yes.

While we still recommend that RVA homeowners invest in an auxiliary or back up heating system, for those particularly cold days, the heat pumps being built today can handle the vast majority of temperatures in our region quite well.

How Efficient Are Electric Heat Pumps?

Heat Pump Efficiency.jpgThe typical electric heat pump provides about three units or more of heat for each unit of electricity used. If a kilowatt-hour of heat is needed for comfort, we can assume this will require about one thousand watts of electric heating. In order to provide that same amount of heat, a heat pump can use as little as 330 watts in one hour, which is a ratio of three to one.

Why Are Electric Heat Pumps So Efficient?

This “heating to electricity used” ratio is called the Coefficient of Performance (COP). Electric resistance heaters have a COP of 1 because they use electricity to create heat. A heat pump moves heat from outside to inside the house and vice versa. This way, the system does not use energy to create heat. Your heat pump system should be able to achieve a COP of at least 1.8 under standard test conditions.

Heat Pump Energy Use Considerations

If the price of oil and fuel gas continues to rise and the cost of electricity remains stable, electric heat pumps, by default, become more efficient than their alternatives. However, a backup furnace can be great when Richmond temperatures plummet into the single digits or below, so keep that in mind before getting rid of any functioning heating system.

How Much Does a Heat Pump Cost?

The cost of a heat pump varies depending on the make, model, and installation costs. Check out this article about the Cost of a Heat Pump for more information about heat pump related costs.

How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Heat Pump?

The cost of a heat pump repair varies wildly depending on what needs to be repaired. The cost of a repair can further vary if the item is repaired during regularly schedule maintenance or in an emergency repair situation. The vast majority of the heat pump repairs we come across could and likely would have been prevented by a regular maintenance visit.

When Is It Time to Retire a Heat Pump and Buy a New Unit?

If a heat pump is old enough, a costly repair may not be worth doing. When dealing with an older system, there is always a risk that some other major component might breakdown soon after a repair. There comes a tipping point in the life of every heat pump unit when the safer bet is a new heat pump unit. If your HVAC repairman recommends such a move, it's worth getting at least one other opinion to confirm that this is the best course of action.

How Much Does It Cost to Service a Heat Pump?

Regularly scheduled maintenance on a heat pump is easy and relatively inexpensive (usually a few hundred dollars per year), especially if you sign up for some sort of maintenance plan, like the Howell's Comfort Club. At a bare minimum, you should have your heat pump serviced once a year, but ideally you should have two heat pump maintenance visits per year. Check out this article to learn more about the cost of an HVAC tune up.

Get a Heat Pump Estimate Today!

The weather in Richmond is always changes, and HVAC companies are about to enter another busy season. If you’re in the market for a Heat Pump, start calling HVAC companies for estimates before it’s too late!

Contact us to get a quote for a new heat pump, schedule heat pump maintenance, or to learn more about the Howell’s Comfort Club Program.

 

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Topics: heat pump, heat pump estimate

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