Under normal conditions, a heat pump can heat your home with far greater efficiency than even the most advanced gas furnace. However, when the weather turns really cold, your system can experience problems. Here’s how cold weather can affect your heat pump.
Snow and Airflow
Your outdoor unit is built to withstand the elements, but snow can still cause a problem. If snow or ice build up around the unit, they can restrict airflow. Without proper airflow, the compressor coil won’t function properly. Your system will have to work harder to provide enough heat for your home, wasting energy and wearing out the unit.
Most heat pumps have a built-in defroster to keep ice off of the unit itself, though you should still check the unit periodically to be sure your coils don’t freeze. Even with a defroster, though, you’ll need to shovel the snow that builds up near your system. You should have at least 2 square feet of clearance on all sides of the unit to allow air to flow.
Efficiency Loss in Cold Weather
If your heat pump is a few years old, it may have another problem. A heat pump works by extracting the heat from the outdoor air and pumping it into your home. In extreme cold weather, however, there’s less heat to extract. The system will start losing efficiency below 40 degrees, and below 25, it may not be able to heat your home properly without a backup system, such as a gas furnace.
Fortunately, newer models don’t have this problem. The latest heat pumps are designed to function efficiently even in temperatures below zero. Therefore, if your heat pump is losing efficiency during cold weather, it’s recommend that you upgrade. Alternately, you can make sure you have a backup heating system in place to supplement your heat pump. This will work in a pinch, but it will ultimately cost you more in energy usage than a simple upgrade.
For help keeping your home comfortable in all kinds of weather, contact us at Detmer and Sons. We provide quality heating and cooling solutions to the Dayton area.