Heat pumps can provide warmth when the temperature outside is negative 13 degrees Fahrenheit. They can provide air conditioning in weather up to 112 degrees. That means they can handle the hottest and coldest it gets in Dover, PA. However, not all models have that range.
In fact, these systems are becoming more popular because they work in colder temperatures than before. When you bought one 15 to 20 years ago, at most, you could expect air cooling.
Back then, they usually didn’t add any warmth once the temperature dipped below freezing. People used them for air conditioning only — albeit with more benefits than the average forced-air system.
Now, however, they’re much more cost-efficient because you can use them year-round. But, you have to specify to your contractor that you want a system that works through the winter because you’ll pay a little extra for a model that can handle it.
In this article, we’ll quickly go over how heat pumps work. That way, it will make more sense as to why some work in below-freezing weather, and some don’t. Then we’ll see how they’ve improved and what advantages they have over conventional HVAC.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions or want to find out more about how a heat pump system would work in your Central PA home, call or email Air Comfort Technologies for a free consultation.
How Does a Heat Pump Work?
Unlike a furnace, radiator, or other conventional HVAC sources, a heat pump does not generate heat. Instead, it draws heat, or thermal energy from outside and pumps it into your house.
But wait, you’ll say. It’s cold out! That’s why I need a heater in the first place.
The truth is that there’s always at least some thermal energy outside, even if it’s not a lot. What the heat pump does is draw in that energy and amplify it using a compression system. Then, it’s strong enough to keep you warm.
With a mini-split, the heat travels into the house through a coolant, or refrigerant liquid, that runs in a closed loop. The thermal energy causes the coolant to evaporate, and when it reaches the air handlers inside, the system releases the heat into the room.
Then, the coolant condenses back into a liquid and travels back to the pump. This cycle occurs continuously to keep you warm. Then, in the summer, this all works in reverse.
When it’s warm out, the heat inside your home causes the coolant to evaporate. Then, the heat pump “dumps” that thermal energy outside. The refrigerant liquid condenses, and the cycle continues.
That’s been the way they’ve always worked. But, today’s models do it much better.
How Mini-Splits Have Improved
Mini-split systems used to get a bad rep. Sure, they used less energy — resulting in lower bills — and provided better comfort. But, they were expensive and only worked in a relatively small temperature range.
However, over the last decade, changing technology has pretty much redefined these systems. It used to be that they’d start blowing cold air once the temperature dipped below 32 degrees. At that point, they weren’t powerful enough to work with so little thermal energy outside.
The newest models have compressors that can keep your home warm even when the temperature is in the negative double digits. When you consider that the record low in Dover, PA was negative 4.9 degrees F in 1985, you realize that a modern heat pump is more than up to the task.
However, to get these results, you need one that’s rated for winter heating. They’re a little more expensive than ones used primarily for cooling.
Benefits of Mini-Split Heat Pump Systems
So, why go for a system like this, even with the improvements? Well, they offer advantages over conventional HVAC. in particular, mini-splits:
- Provide Better Comfort
- Cost Less to Run
- Work in “Shoulder Months”
These benefits deserve an article of their own, but we’ll talk about a few related to what we’ve gone over here.
Provide Better Comfort
That continuous loop we mentioned? That means continuous treatment. Forced-air works by sending blasts of hot or cold air every few minutes. That way, the temperature keeps dipping and peaking.
Instead, you have a variable-speed engine that spends most of its time providing a small, steady stream of treated air to keep the temperature level.
Cost Less to Run
These systems are energy-efficient in many ways, but for now, we’ll focus on two. First is that the heat pump doesn’t require fossil fuels to generate warmth. Instead, it only needs a small amount of electricity to run the loop.
Second, the variable-speed low power mode means using even less electricity overall. It’s the same as how cruising in your car at a steady speed uses less gas than stopping and starting.
Work in “Shoulder Months”
Finally, you don’t need to invest in a Hyper Heat system to save money on heating — at least not in the early fall and late spring. Those are the “shoulder seasons,” where it’s not so cold that you need the heat, but you leave it on to keep from getting chilly.
Since a “cooling-only” heat pump still provides some heat, you can switch off that energy-guzzling furnace or boiler for an extra month or two. The mini-split gives you supplemental heat that costs you less on your energy bills.
What Should You Set Your Thermostat At In the Winter?
If you’re looking to save the most energy possible in the winter, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends keeping the thermostat at 68 degrees. It’s the perfect amount of warmth without feeling chilly or using too much energy. Then, you can lower it when you’re asleep or not home.
With a mini-split system, you can also set the temperature for each air handler separately. So, set the temperature cooler or warmer in different rooms at different times of the day, depending on where you spend your time.
Or, set them all at the same temperature to get even heating or cooling throughout the house. If you’ve only one forced-air or radiators plus one thermostat for your entire home, it’s likely the first time you’ve each room at the same temperature.
Ductless Heating and Cooling in Dover, PA
Are you interested in upgrading your home comfort and downsizing your energy bills in Dover, PA? If so, call or email us here at Air Comfort Technologies for a free consultation. We’ll help you design the system that’s perfect for your home.