high tech heat pumps boost energy efficiency in charleston

High Tech Heat Pumps Boost Energy Efficiency in Charleston

March 10, 2015

Heat pumps are one of the most efficient electric heating systems available. When you upgrade to a high efficiency heat pump with advanced features, the energy savings are even more significant. Keep reading to see which features would benefit your North Charleston home.

Heat Pump Basics

Heat pumps are available in many sizes, types and designs that work for a wide variety of homes. Heat pumps can save up to 50 percent on heating costs when you switch from electric resistance heating options, like electric baseboard and furnace heating. Why? Heat pumps concentrate heat from air, ground or water outside the home, then transfer and release the heat inside the home using the principles of refrigeration.

The compressor is located in the outside cabinet of a conventional split-system heat pump. The compressor squeezes and prepares refrigerant to release heat at the evaporator coil inside the home as the air handler pulls air across the coil. The cooler airflow absorbs heat energy from the very hot coil, and the heated airflow is circulated to the home through a network of air ducts.

The refrigerant leaves the evaporator coil and flows to the condenser coil located outside the home with the compressor. The liquid refrigerant, now exhausted of most heat energy, flows into the condenser under low pressure and vaporizes. The refrigerant becomes extremely cold, which allows it to absorb heat energy from cool winter air. The refrigerant returns to the compressor to repeat the process.

Heat pumps employ a reversing valve that reverses the flow direction of refrigerant. This mechanism allows heat pumps to provide home cooling in addition to home heating, which is another benefit of using a heat pump rather than two separate heating and cooling systems.

Advanced Features

High-efficiency heat pump systems available today offer greater energy efficiency, performance and comfort than older models. Heat pumps offer great versatility by providing heating and cooling, and some may even be used to heat pools, spas and storage water heating.

High tech features vary from one heat pump model to the next, but the following are common features found on today’s high efficiency systems:

  • Variable-speed air handlers are able to adjust the fan and airflow speed in precise increments. Variable-speed technology gives the heat pump the ability to meet real-time heating and cooling demand and maintain the thermostat set point temperature to within one degree. Variable-speed air handlers deliver better comfort with smoother and quieter airflow, compared to conventional single-speed air handlers that continuously operate at 100-percent capacity.
  • Two-speed air handlers offer better performance than conventional single-speed types, but not as good as variable-speed types. Two-speed operate at 100-percent capacity, or around 60-percent capacity when cooling and heating demand are lower.
  • Scroll compressors are a remarkable improvement from conventional piston compressors. Scroll compressors use two spiral-shaped cones — one moving within the other — to squeeze prepare refrigerant in precise amounts. Scroll compressors are much quieter than conventional compressors, too.
  • Demand-defrost control is an important feature to monitor ice accumulation in heating mode. The outdoor condenser is susceptible to icing up, which brings heating to a halt and may damage other heat pump components. More sophisticated demand-defrost devices activate defrost mode only when needed rather than on regular intervals.

    In defrost mode, hot refrigerant is pumped through the condenser to melt ice accumulation. The air handler turns off during defrost mode, or cold air would blow through the home.

  • Expansion valves regulate refrigerant flow into the compressor. Heat pumps may have a thermal expansion valve (TXV) or a more advanced electronic expansion valve (EEV). A TXV or EEV is an important device to have on your new heat pump to maximize efficiency.
  • A desuperheater is an add-on heat exchanger that allows the heat pump to heat water during the cooling months for a storage water heater, pool and spa.
  • WiFi thermostats go well beyond standard temperature-sensing devices of digital or programmable thermostats. WiFi thermostats connect to your home’s wireless network, allowing you to monitor system status, temperature and receive alerts using a smartphone app or online computer. They may be linked to utilities and receive energy price updates to more efficiently cool and heat the home. Some can even control home ventilation and humidity management with compatible comfort systems.

Learn more about high efficiency heat pumps, available through Berkeley Heating & Air Conditioning or give us a call at (843) 277-6030  to schedule an appointment.

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