Continuing our series of tips and tricks for various heating systems, this week we’ll be focusing on HEAT PUMPS. These little gems have gained massively in popularity over the past few years here in Nova Scotia and all across the Maritimes in general. This is due in part to better technology that allows them to operate in a wider temperature range, as well as the low cost to run. They use differences in outdoor and indoor temperatures to work their magic, and require very little electricity to run.

Whether you’ve bit the bullet and bought a full ducted unit, or are just using a mini-split to heat your home, these tips and tricks will help you protect your investment, and ensure that your heat pump is running at optimum efficiency.

  1. Clean or change your filters once a month. This will ensure your system is always ‘breathing’ clean air and is running at maximum efficiency.
  2. Maintain the system according to your manual. Be sure to take a look at the manual for your particular unit, and follow all the directions that apply. Each heat pump is different, so it warrants a peek to make sure you are using yours the way it is designed to be used.
  3. Clean outdoor coils whenever they appear dirty. The outdoor coils are the heart of a heat pump system. Dirty coils do not transfer heat properly, and can cause your unit to work harder than necessary, and even break down prematurely. In the case of these coils, cleanliness is definitely next to godliness!
  4. Remove foliage and clutter from around the outdoor unit. Like any heating system, there should be no obstructions anywhere near it. Be sure to keep the area around the outdoor part of your heat pump system clean and tidy.
  5. Clean the supply and return registers in your home and straighten their fins if bent. Keeping these areas clean and in proper order is key to getting the most out of your heat pump system.
  6. Set it and forget it. Ideally a heat pump should be set at the temperature you’d like, and left alone. A heat pump is designed to adjust to changing temperature and conditions automatically. Avoid changing the temperature or turning the unit on and off. The only time you should be changing the settings is in spring and fall, when you switch it from ‘heat’ to ‘cool’!
  7. Have a back-up system in place. The biggest downfall to a heat pump is that they begin to fail in EXTREMELY cold weather. It’s always a good idea to have a backup system in place (wood, oil, electric, etc.) for times like this. Set the thermostat about 5°C lower than the heat pump on these secondary systems for maximum savings. This way, if back-up heating is required, the existing heating system will automatically turn on to keep your home from getting too cool.