In moderate climates, air source heat pumps can provide an efficient heating and cooling solution. Understanding the monthly costs associated with an air source heat pump can help you make a wise decision regarding what type of heating and cooling system will best suit your needs.
Step 1 – Understand SEER Ratings
SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. This number represents the effective output of your heat pump in relation to the energy required to power it, and is based on a hypothetical average derived from current data on U.S. Climates. The higher the number, the more efficient your heat pump. The best performance can be achieved by choosing a heat pump with a SEER rating that meets the Energy Star recommendations for your climate. Heat pumps do not generally function well as a heating option in regions where subfreezing temperatures are maintained over extended periods of time. A SEER rating of at least 14.5 will maximize your energy efficiency during both cooling and heating seasons.
Step 2 – Determine Your Cost for Electricity
Ask your electricity company for a copy of their billing rates. The cost of electricity varies by region, time of day, and type of application (commercial or residential). Look at the SEER rating for your heat pump to determine the average energy used to run the pump. Then take this rating and multiply it by the hours used over the cost per kilowatt hour for your electricity. This will give you a good idea of how much your heat pump costs to run month to month. Expect seasonal variances depending upon your region. Looking at past electrical bills and their variances from month to month can also help you determine what part of your electricity bill is attributable to your heat pump.
Step 3 – Consider the Cost of Maintenance
Changing filters and refrigerant can affect the overall cost of running your air source heat pump. Be sure to factor in regular maintenance costs when determining your monthly expenses. If you do most of the maintenance yourself, this can lower costs, but be careful when taking on difficult and risky projects, like adding refrigerant.
Step 4 – Increase Your Heat Pump's Efficiency
If the cost of your heating and cooling is through the roof, there are several ways to reduce it. Choose a heat pump that has a defrost on demand control. That will reduce the number of defrost cycles, thus reducing energy used by your heat pump. If your heat pump is connected to an electric furnace, make sure the coil is on the upstream side of the furnace. Protect your outdoor unit from high speed wind by placing it in a sheltered area. And, be sure to draw blinds during hot days and maintain your windows to provide the best possible insulation scenarios. Simple tasks like these can significantly decrease the need to run your heat pump, thereby increasing the lifespan of your home heating and cooling system, and decreasing the cost to your wallet.