Answering Your Baltimore, MD, Heat Pump Installation Questions

August 20, 2017 | Articles
Home Comfort

Heat pumps come in all shapes and sizes, and you’ll find many brands and types from which to choose, including geothermal heat pumps. Heat pumps are more efficient than most traditional systems, but you could need a backup system or a space heater for occasional cold Baltimore, Maryland, days and nights during the winter. Installing a new heat pump can be a complicated project, and homeowners often have many questions, but it doesn’t have to be. When you have a new heat pump installed in your home, you should consider costs, sizing, efficiency, durability, and ease of installation.

 

Heat Pump Sizing Considerations

A small studio apartment won’t need a heat pump as big as a large home, but choosing a heat pump that’s too small will force your system to work harder, which can shorten its operating life. If your system is too large for your home, your heat pump will continually turn on and off instead of operating for one or two hours at a time. This short-cycling can not only create noise but also cause uncomfortable temperature fluctuations.

Before you have a new HVAC system installed, get one of our Griffith Energy Services experts to check your home and tell you how large your heat pump needs to be.

You can estimate the size based on the square footage of your home, but other factors such as your location, the amount of insulation in your home, and the number of trees around it can impact the heat pump size needed. Ceiling height, the number of rooms in your home, the number of windows and doors, indoor air quality, heat-generating appliances, and other factors can also influence your choice. Many companies measure heat pump capacities in tons or British thermal units (BTUs).

Heat Pump Operating Efficiency

The heat from an air-source heat pump is from a renewable source, the air, but extracting and transferring that heat requires electricity. However, an air-source heat pump needs much less energy than a conventional heating and cooling system, so your utility bills will be lower. This type of heat pump also produces fewer pollutants.

A ductless mini-split system’s heat pump or air conditioner has one outdoor unit and one or more indoor units connected by a small conduit. With this arrangement, your system won’t lose warm or cold air through your ductwork. You also won’t have to worry about having ductwork cleaned or getting leaks sealed.

Having more than one indoor unit also makes zoning easy. With a different thermostat for each unit or one thermostat connected to many temperature monitors, you can set different temperatures in different rooms. As a result, you can avoid wasting energy by heating or cooling unoccupied rooms. Zoning also keeps people more comfortable by letting them choose the temperatures in their bedroom or whatever room they’re using.

If you build an addition to your home, such as a TV-entertainment room or an extra bedroom, you can have a standard air-source heat pump installed to heat and cool that addition. This arrangement allows you to use zoning by only turning on the system in the addition when someone is using the space, and it can work well if you want to finish an attic or basement. Geothermal heat pumps are more efficient than conventional heat pumps, and they can help you save energy on water heating.

To save more energy, you can add solar panels to your roof or your yard. With solar panels in place, the sun will offer the small amount of energy your conventional or geothermal heat pump needs, and you won’t have to worry about exorbitant heating or cooling expenses. Solar panels come in many different shapes and sizes, and many look like shingles or tiles that blend in with your roof.

Heat Pump Durability and Maintenance

The underground piping in geothermal heat pumps often lasts for more than 50 years. Other parts of the system last about 20 years, and conventional heat pumps last around 15 years, as long as most other types of systems. With a ductless mini-split system, you can make changes or renovations easily. Ductless systems also help keep your home’s indoor air quality high. Each indoor unit has its own air filter, and dust, dirt, mold, pet dander, and other contaminants won’t be able to travel throughout your home.

A conventional heat pump is more durable and easier to maintain than many other types of systems. Since heating and air conditioning join together in the same unit, you won’t have to pay a technician to check a separate air conditioner and furnace. However, you should have an expert maintain all types of HVAC systems at least once a year to prevent inconvenient, expensive breakdowns. Change your heat pump’s air filter or air filters once each month to improve your indoor air quality and extend your system’s life.

Installation Costs

Air-source heat pumps work by extracting heat from the outside air and moving that heat indoors during the winter. During the summer, heat pumps function like refrigerators, extracting heat from indoor air and offering cooling. Ground-source or geothermal heat pumps are similar, but they transfer heat through underground or underwater pipes filled with water or refrigerant.

Installing a geothermal heat pump is more expensive than getting a traditional heat pump with an outdoor unit, but this type of unit takes up less space indoors. However, you will need a backyard or a pond where you can have the pipes for the system installed.

Many geothermal heat pumps can also work as water heaters, so you won’t have to spend money on a separate water heater or use space in your home. This feature makes installing a luxurious heated floor in your bathrooms less expensive as well. Since all heat pumps can offer heating and cooling, you won’t have to pay for a separate air conditioner and furnace. Even an air-source heat pump uses less space than many conventional systems.

Ease of Heat Pump Installation

Installing a geothermal heat pump is expensive since a contractor will need to dig underground to install the pipes. This excavation work can also disturb your neighbors and damage your landscaping. In some areas with soil that’s too stony or muddy, a geothermal system isn’t a good choice. If you live in a good place for a geothermal heat pump, you can get your investment back over time through lower utility bills.

People who have a small yard or don’t want to disturb their gardens or their children’s play areas should have a vertical system installed. Instead of digging trenches for the pipes, your installer will dig several deep holes. However, this type of geothermal system is more expensive to install. Homeowners who have ponds, lakes, or wells on their properties can save money by having a geothermal system installed underwater instead of underground. This installation process is often faster as well.  

No matter what type of HVAC system your home used to have, installing a ductless mini-split system is easy. You won’t need to have new ducts installed if you had a radiator or a similar ductless system, and you won’t have to remove any existing ductwork. Your installation tech will seal vents and air registers to keep out pests and keep contaminants from spreading through your home. Consequently, zoning systems work better because air doesn’t travel easily from one zone or area to another.

If you already have ductwork, a conventional heat pump may be the most economical choice. If you have an existing heat pump, replacing it with a newer, more energy-efficient model can help you save energy and lower background noise in your home.

However, you shouldn’t try to install any HVAC system yourself. You could damage your new unit, damage your walls or floors, or electrocute yourself. Have your system installed by an experienced HVAC professional from Griffith Energy Services. If you need to add new wiring for a thermostat or extra power, you could also need an electrician. Only technicians experienced with geothermal heat pumps should install them.

Griffith Energy Services has more than 100 years of heating and air conditioning installation experience. We have the professional experience to install, maintain, and repair any type of heat pump for your home. Call us at 888-721-5707 for excellent service from our expert technicians. 

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