Homeowners Professionals

A guide to using your heat pump

A heat pump is one of the most energy efficient ways of heating your home. If the heat pump runs using electricity created by solar panels, it can supply heat and hot water using purely renewable energy. But knowing how to use one, and specifically how to use it efficiently, can be difficult - especially if you have never owned one before. Whether you’ve recently had a heat pump installed or you’ve owned the system for a long time, you can find some more information below around using heat pumps in summer as well as winter and when you should use it.

How to use a heat pump

There are some dos and don’ts when it comes to using a heat pump. You want to ensure that the system is running as smoothly as possible and in the most efficient way. Not only is this better for the environment, but it could also save you money.

The easiest way to control a heat pump is with a  smart thermostat. The thermostat can be programmed so that you can choose the temperature you want your home to be heated or cooled to, as well as when the heat pump should turn on and off. As long as everything’s working properly, programming your heat pump means that you will rarely need to change any settings. In fact, it’s better to leave the appliance alone without changing too many settings frequently, as this could reduce its efficiency.

You should regularly check the outdoor unit to ensure it isn’t blocked with debris, such as leaves, and that it hasn’t frozen over. If there is ice on the unit, this should automatically trigger the defrost cycle.  

How to charge a heat pump

Heat pumps  work using a refrigerant that is able to carry heat into your home as well as take it away. This is why heat pumps are effective as both a way of heating and cooling. However, over time, this refrigerant can slowly escape or break down, reducing the pressure in the system and making it inefficient and unable to heat or cool your home. This pressure is also known as the charge so, when it drops, the heat pump may need charging to return the refrigerant level back to what it should be.

A low volume of refrigerant could cause the coils in the unit to freeze over or the compressor to overheat. This is why it’s so important to get your  heat pump serviced regularly  and ensure it’s working as it should be. If the refrigerant level has dropped, the system will need to be recharged, though this isn’t a task you should attempt yourself. A heat pump technician will be able to establish if there’s a leak and where it’s located. The problem can be solved and the system charged with fresh refrigerant.

Can a heat pump be used for air conditioning?

Despite their name, many heat pumps can cool your home as well as heat it. A heat pump in this respect doesn’t actually ‘condition’ the air but provides an element of locally ambient cooling.

How to use a heat pump in summer

One alternative to turning your heat pump off in summer, would be to switch it to the ‘Cool’ setting and use a smart thermostat to determine the temperature you want it to cool your home to. Don’t set this too low as doing so will mean the heat pump will use lots of energy - around 21 ℃ to 22 ℃ should be fine.

If you don’t want the heat pump to cool your home, some pumps have the ability to dehumidify the space instead. Generally, homes feel hot in the summer because of the level of humidity. By removing some of this moisture in the air, your home will feel cooler.

Should I turn my heat pump down at night?

As previously mentioned, heat pumps run more efficiently when they keep your home at one set temperature. The more you fiddle with the controls and alter the temperature setting, the more energy your appliance will use.  

How long should a heat pump run?

How long a heat pump runs depends on the temperature outside and the temperature it’s trying to heat your home to. Generally, a heat pump should cycle on and off a couple of times every hour, but if this isn’t the case, don’t panic. The cycles depend on the weather outside, how hot or cold your home is and how good your insulation is (the better the insulation, the less heat is lost, meaning the pump doesn’t need to work as hard). The colder it is outside, the longer it will take to get your house up to temperature and therefore the pump could run for a more prolonged period.

If you can hear the heat pump running constantly, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and you shouldn’t worry about the appliance using lots of energy when it does this. You should only worry if it’s running all the time in summer, as this could be a sign of a problem.

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