There’s nothing like adjusting your thermostat and hearing your heating system kick on to help heat your home on a cool Mesa night. Unfortunately, every time you crank the heat up, your utility bill also increases. If you’re tired of paying high utility bills, the good news from Honest Air Conditioning is that other options are available. One option that many local homeowners opt for is a heat pump. Why do so many people choose this option, though? Furthermore, can a heat pump actually save you money, or is it just trendy because it’s one of the newest types of systems available? To answer these questions, check out this in-depth guide to heat pumps.
Electric Furnace Inefficiencies
Any time you’re dealing with energy transformation, you have to deal with the loss of energy. When energy changes forms from one form to another, you will inevitably lose some of that energy, making the process less than 100% efficient. In electric furnaces, though, you don’t actually lose too much energy when transforming electrical energy into heat energy. The heating elements are quite effective at slowing down the flow of electricity and heating up. The problem comes when you consider the fairly high cost of electricity across the country. Another component of this equation is that electric furnaces typically can’t get as hot as gas furnaces, meaning electric furnaces have to run longer to heat your home. Therefore, when you depend solely on electrical energy to heat your home, you will pay a higher price.
Gas Furnace Inefficiencies
Unlike electric furnaces, gas furnaces can heat your home quite quickly. Furthermore, natural gas tends to be less expensive than electricity in most locales. The problem with a gas furnace is that the combustion process is inherently inefficient. When the burners combust the gas, much of the chemical energy in the gas is lost as light energy. Some of the potential energy in the natural gas is also lost in the combustion byproducts as they escape through the furnace’s flue pipe. While newer gas furnaces are better at extracting all of the chemical energy out of the natural gas they burn, they are still not 100% efficient. Additionally, many states are now outlawing gas furnaces, meaning this may not be a viable long-term option, even if a gas furnace is what you prefer.
The Heat-Pump Difference
A heat pump takes advantage of the relative efficiency of electricity while overcoming many of its problems. That’s because heat pumps use electricity in an altogether different way than electric furnaces. When operating normally, a heat pump only uses electricity to move heat energy from where it is to where it’s needed. Since electricity is far more efficient when it’s powering mechanical processes, this makes heat pumps inherently efficient. This heat-moving process is possible thanks to the refrigerant that circulates through a long metal tube. The heat pump changes the pressure of the refrigerant at specific points in the tube, thus changing its temperature. When the refrigerant is colder than the surrounding air, it absorbs heat energy. When the refrigerant is warmer than the surrounding air, it expels heat energy.
Types of Heat Pumps
There are two types of heat pumps available for residential applications. The most common type of heat pump is an air-source heat pump. These heat pumps absorb heat energy from nearby air during the heating process. In mild climates like Mesa’s, this heat-absorption process is exceptionally efficient. The other type of heat pump is a ground-source heat pump. Rather than absorbing heat from the air, a ground-source heat pump absorbs heat that radiates from the ground using underground refrigerant lines. The stable underground temperature allows a ground-source heat pump to be even more efficient than an air-source heat pump. Plus, a ground-source heat pump can cool your home by expelling heat into the ground after it absorbs it from your home. Whether you choose a ground-source heat pump or an air-source heat pump, though, you can expect to see big energy savings.
Typically, heat pumps will be more expensive upfront than a conventional HVAC system. However, at Honest Air Conditioning, we always tell our customers to check for local, state, and Federal rebates that can help offset the higher equipment cost. Additionally, the energy savings that occur when you install a heat pump will help to offset the cost of the system, especially if you remain in your home for several years after you install the heat pump. It’s important to think of a heat pump as an investment instead of a quick fix. You can compare your utility bills before and after you install your heat pump and see the rate at which you’re making up the cost differential to confirm the effectiveness of your investment.
Another way that heat pumps can save you money is with their long service lives. You can expect around 20 years or more of service from a quality air-source heat pump. Ground-source heat pumps last even longer. The mechanical equipment of a ground-source heat pump often lasts 25 years. The underground refrigerant lines can last for 50 years or more. Thus, while you might have to pay more for your new HVAC system, you’ll have more years to spread out the cost of the system. Plus, you’ll have longer to save for the next system to ensure your HVAC account is fully funded. As with any HVAC system, correct installation is vital if your equipment is going to give you many years of service. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced company like Honest Air Conditioning perform the installation.
One fact that some people don’t realize is that a heat pump can keep you comfortable year-round. To keep you cool in the summer, a heat pump simply pressurizes the refrigerant so that it’s hotter outside instead of inside, allowing the hot air inside your home to be expelled outside. This reverse heat transfer is the same way an air conditioner works. The perk of using a heat pump for heating and cooling is that it makes your home’s mechanical systems much more simple. Furthermore, if you opt for semi-annual maintenance visits from Honest Air Conditioning, you can expect that the cooling action of your heat pump will be more efficient than a conventional air conditioner because the equipment is being maintained more frequently.
Importance of Maintenance
Speaking of maintenance, it’s always worth mentioning that your heat pump needs regular maintenance in order to function properly. Semi-annual maintenance visits will help keep the system operating efficiently and ensure that any developing issues are addressed before they become too serious. After all, you don’t want to find yourself on a cool winter night or a hot summer day without the comfort that your heat pump provides.
Your HVAC Experts
At Honest Air Conditioning, we can install, maintain, and repair all types of heat pumps, air conditioners, furnaces, and other HVAC equipment. We can also help you address indoor air quality issues to ensure your family stays healthy. Since our founding, our simple approach to quality customer service has earned us countless five-star reviews. We’re also proud to be rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau. To learn more about heat pumps, contact us at Honest Air Conditioning today.