Many households throughout the Atlanta area rely on heat pumps for year-round comfort. Typically, these systems offer great energy efficiency and reliable comfort, but heat pumps are not as effective when the temperatures dip below freezing. The Atlanta HVAC professionals of Estes Services share important information about heat pump efficiency and how to stay comfortable when they quit working efficiently.
When Do Heat Pumps Quit Working Efficiently?
Heat pumps rely on heat within outdoor air to keep your home at comfortable temperatures during winter. The heat pump transfers heat from the outdoors into your home to warm your living areas. Even during cold weather, there is adequate heat available for the heat pump to operate. Atlanta’s mild climate throughout the majority of the year makes heat pumps an efficient heating choice for homes.
Once temperatures fall below a certain point, heat pumps are not able to work efficiently. They use more electricity in attempts to adequately heat the home, which increases your energy bills. Heat pumps are rated for efficient operation within a certain temperature range.
The optimal temperature range for conventional air source heat pump operation is above 25 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat pump begins to lose efficiency once temperatures dip to 40 degrees and is no longer the most efficient heating option once temperatures fall to 25 to 30 degrees.
When temperatures fall to freezing and below, the heat pump is not useless – it still runs, but it uses far more energy and typically struggles to maintain comfortable temperatures inside the home due to the lack of outdoor heat available for heat transfer.
What to Do When Temperatures Dip Too Low
When outdoor temperatures reach the point where heat pumps are no longer able to operate efficiently, many homes utilize backup heating systems and give their heat pump a break. A backup heating system is a smart option that ensures efficient, consistent warmth in the home all winter long.
There are a few different backup heating system options for homes with Atlanta heat pumps:
- Supplemental electric resistance heat strips can be installed along with your heat pump to provide a secondary heat source when outdoor temperatures fall below freezing. At this temperature, the electric heat strips operate more efficiently than the heat pump. Electric heat strips are a viable option for backup heat in homes without access to natural gas, or in homes that do not already have natural gas lines installed. Installation of gas lines to power a gas furnace just for backup heating is quite costly, much more so than installing electric heat strips.
- If you have access to natural gas in your home, a gas furnace is another possible option for backup heating when your heat pump quits working. Natural gas is low in cost, so the price of using a gas furnace for backup heating is quite affordable for most homeowners. Gas furnaces are more expensive to buy and install than electric heat strips, but they operate more efficiently, which reduces the cost of heating your home when outdoor temperatures are below freezing.
The key to efficient home heating is making sure your backup heat source is only used as needed. With a backup heating source installed, your system automatically switches from heat pump heating to backup heating once temperatures reach freezing.
You are also able to manually switch between the two heating sources via your thermostat controls. However, this is where there is potential to make expensive mistakes. Allowing your backup heating system to run as the home’s primary heat source once temperatures are back in the heat pump’s efficient operation range significantly raises the price of heating your home, as the backup heat source is generally more expensive to run than the heat pump.
Avoid this pricey mistake by allowing the HVAC system to automatically switch between heat pump and backup heating on its own. Do not manually switch between heating sources at your thermostat unless your heat pump fails to work entirely and you need to turn on the backup heating system as an emergency heat source to stay warm until repairs are made.
Heat Pump Help from Estes Services
Ensure your home’s heat pump system is equipped to keep your family safe and warm, no matter what temperature lows we hit during the Atlanta winter. Estes Services offers expert heat pump maintenance and repair services to keep your heat pump in top shape and running efficiently. We install efficient backup heating equipment to take over in the case your heat pump stops working, so you are able to enjoy affordable heating no matter what!