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Heat Pump Program

 

Your Smartest Investment in Comfort

Heat Pump Topics: 

Heat pump benefits

Heating and cooling costs equal approximately half of your home’s energy budget. A heat pump can be used year-round, warming your home in the winter and cooling it in the summer. It also offers cost-savings, choice and comfort.

Cost Savings. A lower winter electric rate is offered to qualified purchasers who buy and install a new heat pump. The Residential Conservation Heat Pump Rate – 115 covers the period from October 1 through May 31 annually.

Choice. As your energy partner, Omaha Public Power District recommends the use of high efficiency heat pumps because they provide more control over your winter heating costs, which saves you money. It’s called “energy choice”. The energy choice is yours. Since utility prices fluctuate, heat pumps optimize the best use of both gas and electricity – giving you the choice on how to manage your energy use.

Comfort. A heat pump is designed to provide even heating and cooling throughout your entire home. After a heat pump is installed, a verification of the system is available at no charge. An OPPD representative will come to your home to make certain your new heat pump is operating effectively.

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How a heat pump works

A heat pump is an air conditioner with a reversing valve enabling it to heat as well as cool your home.

In cold weather, the heat pump moves heat from outside into the house for dependable heating, eliminating the use of your furnace on all but the coldest days of the year. In a typical Nebraska winter, it provides at least 80 percent of your home’s heating needs. Your furnace provides the remaining heat on the coldest winter days, when it’s most efficient.

  1. Outdoor coil extracts heat from outdoor air
  2. Refrigerant gas carries heat to indoor unit
  3. Circulating indoor air picks up heat and carries it throughout the home
Click on image to enlarge
 

In warm weather, the heat pump works like a standard high-efficiency air conditioner, moving heat outside from the inside air, cooling your home in even the hottest months. During the cooling cycle, the heat pump also dehumidifies the indoor air.

  1.  Indoor coil extracts heat from the air in your home
  2.  Refrigerant gas carries heat to outdoor unit
  3.  Outdoor coil transfers heat to outdoor air

 

 

Click on image to enlarge

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Heat pump types

An air source heat pump replaces your outdoor air conditioner and can be installed in a home that has an electric, natural gas or propane furnace.

Efficiency ratings for an air source heat pump are designated by:

    • Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) – for heating
    • Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) – for cooling
Heat pump

A higher efficiency rating means a lower cost of operation. It is important to pay attention to the HSPF rating because the Nebraska heating season lasts six times longer than the cooling season.

water source heat pump also known as geothermal heat pump uses water for absorbing heat in the winter and releasing heat in the summer. Water source heat pumps are among the most efficient because they take advantage of the ground’s constant temperature.

Click on image to enlarge

Efficiency ratings for a water source or geothermal heat pump are designated by:

    • Coefficient of Performance (COP) – for heating
    • Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) – for cooling

A higher efficiency rating means a lower cost of operation. It is important to pay attention to the COP rating because the Nebraska heating season lasts six times longer than the cooling season.

Click on image to enlarge

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Sizing and efficiency of your new heat pump

 A heat pump allows you to maximize the comfort of your home. Your heating and cooling contractor should complete a load calculation to right-size your heat pump. You choose the level of efficiency you prefer based on heat pump efficiencies available. Your heating and cooling contractor will help you estimate your energy savings

If needed, and regardless of your heat pump choice, have your contractor evaluate your duct system and make recommendations to improve airflow. Improved airflow will also improve your comfort level.

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Ongoing maintenance for your heat pump

It is important to service your heating and cooling equipment like you service your automobile. To maintain your heat pump at peak efficiency, have your system serviced each spring and fall.

Plan the ongoing care of your system with your heating and cooling contractor at the time of purchase. Having a maintenance agreement saves you money, ensures your high-efficiency system continues to operate at peak performance, entitles you to priority service, and protects your investment.

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Choosing a heating and cooling contractor

Irrespective of which brand you select, quality installation of your heating and cooling equipment is one of the most important issues for you to consider. The quality with which the system is installed is directly related to the long-term reliability and efficiency of your new system.

For guidance on finding the right heating and cooling contractor, take a look at the recommendations provided by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), North American Technician Excellence Advice (NATE), and the Air Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). These three national heating and cooling organizations are well respected within the industry and provide terrific guidance and customer information.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Heat Pumps 

What is an electric heat pump?

An electric heat pump is a single unit that both heats and cools your home. A heat pump is among the most efficient heating and cooling systems available today reaching efficiency levels of 250 to 500 percent.

If it cools and heats, why do they call it a heat pump?

Simple, it pumps heat.  In summer, it moves heat from inside your house to the outside.  In winter, it moves heat from the air outside to inside your home. 

There's heat in the outside air in winter?

Yes.  Outside air at 0 degrees F. contains 82 percent of the heat available in the air at 100 degrees F. One of the amazing things about the heat pump is that it can extract that heat from the outside air and pump it into your home.

Do I need an auxiliary or back-up heating system with an electric heat pump?

Yes. The heat pump moves heat from outside into you home for dependable heating, eliminating the use of your furnace on all but the coldest days of the year. In a typical Nebraska winter, it provides at least 80 percent of your home’s heating needs. Your furnace provides the remaining heat on the coldest winter days, when it’s most efficient. 

What is that smoke coming out of my heat pump?

The white smoke-like steam coming off the outdoor unit during mild winter weather is from the normal operation of the defrost cycle heating the outdoor coil and melting the ice off so the airflow through the coil is not hampered. This generally lasts for 5 to 10 minutes and then goes back to the normal heating cycle.

What does Auxiliary Heat on my thermostat mean?

There is an outdoor temperature when the heat pump can no longer efficiently transfer heat from the outside air into your home. This is approximately at 20 degrees. The thermostat senses this and automatically turns on the auxiliary heat to provide the additional heat needed. The “AUX” heat indicator light on your thermostat will light up when the auxiliary heat in running.

What does Emergency Heat on my thermostat mean?

Emergency Heat means that the heat pump is locked out and the only source of heat is the auxiliary heat. This is a feature of most heat pump thermostats. It will be used if for some reason the heat pump heating source fails. Contact your heating and cooling contractor if this happens.

Can I save money using a set-back thermostat with a heat pump?

You will save a little more, especially in the summer.  The recommended thermostat setting is 78 degrees for cooling and 70 degrees for heating. When you have a heat pump, you can set it back during the cooling mode approximately 5-8 degrees and you should leave it there for a minimum of 8 hours for maximum benefit. However, you are best served not to change the temperature in the heating mode with the heat pump.

I've heard that heat pumps don't keep you as warm as a furnace.  Is that true?

With a heat pump, you don't get blasts of hot air that you get with a furnace. A heat pump keeps the room temperature more constant, so you're more comfortable all the time. If you are like most people who find that sometimes they're too hot and sometimes they're too cold with a furnace, an electric heat pump is probably just right for you.

So a heat pump really does blow cooler air than a gas furnace?

Yes. A heat pump is designed to run for extended run cycles and that's what helps maintain a constant, comfortable temperature in your home that's better tolerated by people, pets, and plants. The heat pump generates a less intense heat, between 95 and 105 degrees for longer run cycles of 3 cycles per hour. While a gas furnace will provide a high intensity heat, between 120 and 160 degrees for shorter run cycles of 5 to 6 cycles per hour.

Then it must run longer than a furnace, right?

Right again.  But, it produces two to three units of heat for each unit of energy it uses because of the higher efficiency compared to less than one unit of heat from a furnace.

Do I have to "oversize" my unit with a heat pump or have larger ductwork?

A heat pump uses the same sized ductwork as a typical furnace/central air conditioning system.  And unlike furnaces, which routinely are oversized, you don't need to over-size a heat pump. Your heating and cooling contractor should perform a load calculation to right-size your heat pump for your home. If you're installing a heat pump in an energy efficient home, you may even need a smaller unit.  The reason is because energy efficient homes are built for maximum energy savings. 

Is a heat pump as efficient for cooling as a central air conditioner?

Yes.  A heat pump and a central air conditioner with equal SEER ratings cool with the same efficiency.

Since the heat pump seems similar to an air conditioner and yet runs year-round, will it wear out faster?

No. Heat pumps are engineered to run year-round, and technological advances have greatly improved reliability. The typical life expectancy for an electric heat pump is 15 years or more, and many models offer a 10-year warranty on the compressor. Although equipment may last 20 to 30 years, technology improvements may make it cost-effective to change every 15 to 20 years.

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In-Home Electrical Protection Program

If an electrical line in your home fails you can call our 24-hour repair hotline. We’ll send a certified electrician to begin repairs, typically within 24 hours. And for just $3.95/month you can avoid unexpected repair bills. Learn more

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