Buyer’s Guide for Furnaces: Heat Pumps

Posted on: December 29, 2017

Our buyer’s guide for furnaces includes heat pumps, as they are one of the most popular heater choices in Southern California. Even though they are not furnaces, they are worth every San Diego buyer’s consideration. Find out why California residents and your trusted heating Lakeside experts (and beyond) love them.

How do heat pumps work?

A technical definition of a heat pump is – a mechanical compression cycle refrigeration system that can be reversed to heat or cool a space. A heat pump has an air handler, which is located inside, and an outdoor unit. A compressor circulates the refrigerant that absorbs, transports and releases heat where it’s needed. The air is conditioned in the air handler, where it’s blown over the coil with the refrigerant. After the air is heated or cooled, it gets distributed throughout the house.

Even when it’s cold outside, there is some heat to be extracted and transported inside. That’s what a heat pump does. When the season is hot, it does the same thing the other way around.

Because a heat pump doesn’t generate heat, but just move it, they don’t burn fuels and are considered a little greener heating option than gas-burning furnaces, for example. Exactly because they only transport heat, they can work both ways, to heat or cool a controlled space.

Any downsides to heat pumps? Well, yes. They are not an efficient heating solution in temperatures below 40 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit. But, since this is Southern California, that’s not something that bothers you. In San Diego area, heat pumps are the preferred HVAC choice of many households and businesses.

What is maintenance like for heat pumps?

All appliances need maintenance and major appliances especially so. Keep in mind that proper, timely and regular maintenance of a heat pump can ensure peak performance of your appliance. Peak performance equals maximum comfort, equals more money in the home budget since there are no repair services to pay. Neglected heat pumps can be 10% to 25% less efficient than well-maintained ones.

What you can do to ensure your heat pump’s efficiency:

  • Clean filters and change them as necessary
  • Clean outdoor coils when needed
  • Clean the fan occasionally (always switch it off first!)
  • Make sure that there’s a 2-feet margin of free space all around the outdoor unit (no vegetation or other objects in this space)
  • Wipe down supply and return registers inside
  • Straighten out any register fins that are bent

In addition to inspecting your heat pump from time and time and performing the regular maintenance, you should always have your heat pump checked by a licensed and reliable heating Lakeside expert (or another city in San Diego metro area). Action AC is at your service when you need heating Lakeside services – actually we serve the greater San Diego area. Here is a part of what our experienced technicians do when you schedule a yearly maintenance service:

  • Check for dirt and other obstructions in the ducts, the blower and on the coil and filters
  • Check the ducts for signs of leakage
  • Measuring and verifying airflow and refrigerant charge
  • Checking for refrigerant leaks
  • Inspecting electric terminals and connections
  • Verifying correct electric control and thermostat operation
  • Inspecting motors and belts for signs of wear, lubricating them and tightening

Heat pump vs. furnace

A heat pump may look as an air conditioner and a furnace combined. This is because it has an outdoor unit (like an air conditioner) and an air handler inside (like a furnace). However, unlike a gas furnace, there is no combustion, no fuel supply lines, no burners, no flue and no heat exchanger.

There is one similarity to electric furnaces, though. In the air handler, there is a heat strip that heats the air when the outside temperatures are too low to provide heat. When we described heat pumps above, we said that they are not efficient heating options in temperatures below 40 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit. If the weather gets that cold, a heat strip kicks in. Some are concerned that this could result in high electricity bills. In a colder climate, it definitely wouldn’t be efficient to use the heat strip often. Given the mild nature of our San Diego winters, a heat pump can be quite energy-efficient (even if the heat strip is needed on rare occasions).

What are the advantages of heat pumps?

Heat pumps are very energy-efficient and cost-effective in the Californian weather.

Given the way heat pumps heat the air, the air isn’t as hot as when a home uses a furnace. Some people prefer the air heated by a heat pump – it’s more lukewarm compared to the intensely hot air coming from a furnace. As a result, the air isn’t as dry, which your hair and skin may appreciate.

Heat pumps don’t burn fuel, so they don’t produce carbon dioxide. If you care about your carbon footprint or if you want to apply for an energy-efficiency program, this feature is important. However, we can say that heat pumps are also safer in the sense there’s no carbon monoxide, so you don’t have to worry about a leakage.

Action AC is your reliable heating Lakeside specialist (serving greater San Diego)

When you need anything related to heating – be it installation, repair, service or check-up – make sure you contact Action AC. Our numerous awards and recognitions, as well as experience and market presence of more than 40 years, speak volumes about our commitment to your comfort and the well-being of your home budget. Never compromise on quality when it comes to your HVAC. Action AC is here to provide you industry-leading services at very affordable rates. We are here to serve you with honesty, integrity and professionalism. Call us!