Heat pump FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions about Heat Pumps

What is a Heat Pump?

A Heat Pump is a home appliance (similar to a fridge or freezer) that heats and cools the atmosphere in the home.  It offers home owners comfort that is normally reserved for high-rise office buildings, five star hotels or executive apartments.  It heats, cools, dehumidifies and continuously filters the air of dust and other impurities.  It also circulates the air without heating or cooling to eliminate stuffiness.  A typical Heat Pump has two units - an indoor unit, and an outdoor unit.  For this reason, they are often called “Split Systems”.  Many have remote controls for maximum convenience.
  

How does it work?

A fridge transfers heat from its food compartment to the coil at the back.  Like a fridge, a Heat Pump transfers heat energy from one area to another.  Unlike a fridge, it can be reversed so that the heat flow goes the other way.  Heat Pumps transfer heat from the outside air into the home in winter, and transfers heat from inside the home to the outside air in summer.
 

But how can it heat the home in winter when it’s freezing outside?

A home freezer can take the temperature of its food compartment below zero degrees, in fact as low as minus six degrees Celsius.  If it can remove heat from inside a freezer to below zero degrees, the same process - used in Heat Pumps - can extract enough heat from cold outside air to warm the home.  Although our bodies feel cold at these low temperatures, there is still a lot of heat energy in the outside air at zero degrees Celsius.
 

What size will I need for my home?

Every home is as individual as its owner.  The key to selecting the right size Heat Pump for your home is an accurate estimate of the heat that will need to be transferred into your home in winter for heating, and out of your home in summer for cooling.  
 

What factors will affect the size of Heat Pump I need?

The amount of heating needed will depend on the heat loss through walls, windows and roofs. To minimise heat loss and before you invest in a Heat Pump, it is always a good idea to properly insulate walls and roofs first.  In particularly cold climates, double-glazing windows will ‘insulate’ them and keep heat loss to a minimum.  By insulating first, the size of Heat Pump selected will generally be smaller and therefore be cheapest to install and run.
 
The northern aspect of the home is also an important factor.  North-facing rooms will catch the sun better and will generally need less heating. Conversely, south-facing rooms tend to be colder and will need more heating.
 

Do Heat Pumps take up a lot of room?

No. Heat Pumps are designed to be unobtrusive in their size, neutral décor and low noise levels.  There are also different types of Heat Pumps; from a stylish through the wall packaged unit to different ‘varieties’ of Split Systems.  The least obtrusive is a Ducted Split System.  This can be hidden in the ceiling or under the floor and only the grilles for distributing the air are visible.
 

How much does it cost to buy and install a Heat Pump?

As stated before, every home is as unique as its owner.  The installed cost of a Heat Pump will therefore be unique for each home and will depend on the size and type of Heat Pump installed.  Degrees Ahead offer a FREE survey and quotation service and we would be happy to provide you with a firm quotation for your unique situation.
  

How much does it cost to heat my home with a Heat Pump?

Conventional Heat Pump heating is roughly a quarter of the cost of electric heating and about half the cost of gas heating.  Inverter Heat Pumps have improved technology to give 300-500% efficiency.
 

How can a Heat Pump be cheaper to run when it has more moving parts?

A Heat Pump uses electricity to ‘transfer’ heat.  Electric heaters ‘convert’ electric energy to heat energy and are thereby limited by the amount of electricity used.  A Heat Pump has no such limitation and can ‘transfer’ 2-3 times the heat from outside air than can be ‘converted’ from the electricity it uses.
 

Are Heat Pumps noisy?

No, they are generally not noisy.  The source of the noise in a typical Heat Pump is air impinging on the grille as it is forced out of the unit.  Air noise is marginally higher than ambient background noise and is usually not distracting.
 

Do they dry the air; like on an airplane?

Heating or cooling air changes its characteristics.  Heating air increases its ability to carry moisture in suspension by reducing its ‘relative humidity’ content.  This is the same process used in clothes dryers.  Cooling air causes the moisture in the air to condense out of suspension.  This reduces the ‘absolute humidity’ content of the air and is the process used in Dehumidifiers.  Either way, reducing moisture in the home is beneficial by discouraging mould and mildew and by producing a healthier living environment.
  

Are they reliable?

Yes.  Heat Pumps are reliable.  They use the same process as the home fridge or freezer and have the same level of dependability and useful life expectancy.
 

How easy are they to repair?

Provided the service person is experienced and qualified, repairing Heat Pumps is as straightforward as repairing a fridge or freezer.  
 

Do they need servicing?

Like cars, Heat Pumps should be regularly serviced for optimum operation.  This involves cleaning the air filter and perhaps checking that the refrigeration charge is correct.  It would be a good idea to service Heat Pumps just before the beginning of each extreme season, for example, before winter and again before summer.
 

How are Heat Pumps better than other forms of heating?

Apart from being cheaper to run, Heat Pumps offer other benefits that heating only systems cannot.

 
All in all, Heat Pumps offer the best investment in home heating and comfort.
 

Who can I call about Heat Pumps and where can I see one?

Many air conditioning and refrigeration companies will offer to install a Heat Pump in your home.  For the best selection and advice, see Degrees Ahead Ltd.