Heat pumps are considered one of the most energy-efficient heating sources available these days. However, the most common heat pump, the air-source variety, does begin to lose its ability to comfortably heat an indoor space as temperatures fall below freezing. This is why standard heat pumps come with an emergency backup heating element, usually an electric resistance heater, though in some systems, a gas furnace will kick on when temperatures get too cold for the heat pump to provide comfortable heating.
Air-source heat pumps work by using refrigerant to transfer heat energy between the outside and inside air of your home. For heating, they bring the heat energy inside, and for cooling they extract heat from indoor air and expel it into the outside air. The lower the temperatures, the harder time heat pumps have pulling heat from the cold, outside air.
The balance point is the intersection between the heating capacity of the heat pump and your heating needs as the weather changes. The lower the temperature where these two points meet, the more efficiently your heat pump will work. Still, in cold-winter climates like ours in Kansas City, there will be a point or outdoor temperature at which backup or emergency heating will be required to keep your home comfortable.
Knowing what your balance point is can allow you to keep your energy bills under control. A properly set programmable thermostat can prevent a heat pump from turning off until the balance point is met. That way the supplemental heat source does not kick on until absolutely necessary.
Some ways to lower the balance point include improving insulation and sealing door and window gaps, as well as sealing other air leaks in the perimeter of your home.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Overland Park, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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