Did you know that heat pumps perform differently in the winter than in the summer? In the winter, a heat pump extracts heat from the outdoor air and uses it to heat your home.

But since the air outside is colder in the winter, the heat pump has to work harder to extract enough heat to keep your home warm. As a result, your heat pump may not be as efficient in the winter as it is in the summer.

In this article, we’ll be asking if heat pumps actually work in the winter, problems, issues, and struggles you might have with your heat pump in the winter as well as tips and solutions to make your heat pump more efficient in the winter.

Let’s take a look.

How Does A Heat Pump Work In Winter?

First of all, there are two different types of heat pumps – air-source and ground-source.

Air-source heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air outside and using it to heat your home. Ground-source heat pumps work in a similar way, but they extract heat from the ground instead of the air.

In both cases, the heat pump uses a refrigerant to absorb heat from the outside air or ground. The refrigerant is then compressed, which raises its temperature.

The hot refrigerant is passed through a coil of copper tubing called an evaporator.

As the refrigerant passes through the evaporator, it transfers its heat to the indoor air, heating your home in the process.

The refrigerant then moves on to the condenser, where it releases its heat to the outside air or ground.

Once it has released its heat, the refrigerant is cooled and returned to the evaporator to start the process all over again.

As you can see, heat pumps rely on a continuous flow of refrigerant to transfer heat from the outside air or ground into your home.

How Efficient Are Air Source Heat Pumps In Winter?

Air source heat pumps are still efficient in winter, but not as efficient as they are in summer.

In the summer, the air outside is full of heat, so the heat pump can extract a lot of heat from the air very easily.

In contrast, the air outside is much colder in the winter, so the heat pump has to work harder to extract enough heat to keep your home warm.

As a result, an air source heat pump may only be about 60% efficient in the winter, compared to 100% efficient in the summer.

How Efficient Are Ground Source Heat Pumps In Winter?

Ground source heat pumps are still efficient in winter, but not as efficient as they are in summer. In the summer, the ground is full of heat, so the heat pump can extract a lot of heat from the ground very easily.

In contrast, the ground is much colder in the winter, so the heat pump has to work harder to extract enough heat to keep your home warm.

As a result, a ground source heat pump may only be about 50% efficient in the winter, compared to 100% efficient in the summer.

10 Ways To Make Your Heat Pump More Efficient In The Winter

The most efficient way to run a heat pump in the winter is to hold a steady temperature in your home.

But here are 10 ways to make your heat pump more efficient in the winter:

1. Maintain a constant temperature

By maintaining a constant temperature in your home, you can help your heat pump to run more efficiently.

When the heat pump is turned on, it will take a while to warm up your home to the desired temperature.

If you keep turning the heat up and down, the heat pump will have to work harder to maintain a constant temperature, which will make it less efficient.

2. Use a programmable thermostat

By using a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature of your home to lower when you are not there and raise it again just before you come back. This will help to save energy and money as you won’t be heating an empty house.

Also, use a “smart thermostat”.

A smart thermostat can help you to save money by automatically adjusting the temperature of your home to suit your needs.

For example, if you usually leave for work at 8 am, the thermostat can be set to lower the temperature at 7:30 am so that you don’t waste energy heating an empty house.

3. Check your heat pump temperature settings

The sweet spot for comfort and energy efficiency in the fall and winter months is 68°F, according to the Department of Energy.

When your home is occupied and family members are awake, a heat pump setting of 68°F maintains living rooms comfortably warm. Always check your settings to achieve the ultimatum best temperature.

4. Don’t cover your system

This point is a reference to air source heat pumps. During the winter, it’s common for people to cover their air conditioners with a tarp or blanket to protect them from the snow and cold weather.

However, you should never cover your air source heat pump as this can actually damage the unit.

The condenser coils need to be able to breathe in order to function properly, so covering them will only make the heat pump less efficient.

5. Follow a regular maintenance schedule

Even though your heat pump won’t require as much maintenance as a gas boiler, it’s still important to follow a regular maintenance schedule.

This will help to keep the heat pump running smoothly and efficiently.

6. Keep the area around your heat pump clear

It’s important to keep the area around your heat pump clear of any obstructions such as snow, leaves, or debris.

This will ensure that the heat pump can function properly and doesn’t have to work harder than necessary.

Also, keep snow away from the heat pump fins as they will inhibit the flow of air and make the heat pump less efficient.

7. Insulate your home

By insulating your home, you can help to keep the heat in and lower your energy bills.

Make sure that you check for any drafts around doors and windows and seal them up with weather stripping or caulking.

8. Only heat the space you need

Instead of having the heating switched on in all rooms of your house, only heat the space, you are using.

This will save you money as you won’t be heating rooms that no one is using.

You can do this by using your radiator thermostats to control the temperature in each room or by using zone valves.

9. Get familiar with the different modes of your heat pump

Get to know your heat pump settings and use the most efficient mode for your needs. For example, if you only need to heat a small space, you can use the “Fan Only” or “Low Heat” setting.

10. Install underfloor heating

Underfloor heating works so well with heat pumps because it evenly distributes the heat around the room, making the heat pump work more efficiently.

Related: Can You Get Grants For Underfloor Heating Insulation?

FAQs

At what temperature does a heat pump stop being efficient?

Heat pumps aren’t as efficient when the weather gets cold. For the greatest performance, a heat pump should be used at temperatures of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit you’ll find that heat pumps are not as efficient and have to try even harder to heat your home.

Does dry mode use less electricity?

The dry mode does not use more or less electricity than other modes, but it can help to extend the life of your heat pump by removing moisture from the air.

How do I keep my heat pump from freezing?

Simply blowing air across the outdoor coil will not prevent it from freezing. The most effective way to keep your heat pump from freezing is to use a fan to circulate air around the outdoor coil.

In Summary

These are just some of the ways you can make your heat pump more efficient in the winter.

By following these tips, you can help to reduce your energy bills and keep your home warm and comfortable all season long.

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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