Understanding How Your Heat Pump and Programmable Thermostat Work Together

Understanding How Your Heat Pump and Programmable Thermostat Work TogetherA heat pump is an efficient way to condition homes in our Southern climate because temperatures seldom fall below freezing for any great length of time. However, it’s important to realize that when they’re in the heating mode, they work differently than a gas furnace does. Heat pumps rely on heat energy in the outdoor air to heat your home, while a gas furnace uses fuel combustion to create warmth. Sometimes when it’s cold outdoors, heat pumps don’t have enough available outside heat to extract, so they switch to a supplemental electric heating coil.

Combining a heat pump’s heating operation with a programmable thermostat works best with an intelligent recovery programmable thermostat. Instead of a normal programmable model, the intelligent recovery unit keeps track of the amount of heat your home needs. When the thermostat is asked to raise the temperature more than two degrees, it will do so ahead of time and gradually, to prevent inefficient backup electrical heating from kicking on.

The backup heating element that comes with most air-source heat pumps uses about three times the electricity that the heat pump uses. It even works when temperatures are above the balance point for the heat pump, the point at which it usually has to switch to the auxiliary coil. For example, if the thermostat is set at 68 degrees F and someone turns it up to 74 degrees, the heat pump will turn on supplemental coil instead, which will run (inefficiently) until your home is 74 degrees.

Instead of relying on the inherent energy efficiency of the heat pump, you’ll be paying top dollar to heat your home, which is why intelligent recovery thermostats were designed initially. Many people like their homes cooler for sleeping, and these units provide the means to gradually ramp up temperatures without triggering the need to use the supplemental heating element.

To learn more about combining a programmable thermostat with your heat pump system, please contact us at Powers Heating & Air. We’ve provided outstanding HVAC services for Peachtree City area homeowners since 2001.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Peachtree City, Georgia and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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