Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning Blog

Heat Pump

Heat Pump

Winter in Colorado is something that most of us look forward to. It’s a lot easier to get out there and enjoy the season—and the slopes—when you’ve got a nice, warm, cozy home to come back to at the end of the day. If you’re thinking about replacing your old heating system, or you need to decide on a heater for a brand new home, you should definitely consider a heat pump installation in Fort Collins, CO.

The heat pump differs from more standard heating systems in a few ways. The good news? They’re beneficial ways! Just remember that getting the best that any heating system has to offer means scheduling your heating system installation, repair, and maintenance services with trained professionals. You’re reading this, so you’re well on your way to doing so. Whatever heating services you may need, our technicians are the ones to trust when you need the job done right!

Two Systems in One

Let’s get the big one out of the way first. Heat pumps are great heaters. But they’re not just heaters. They’re air conditioners, too.

No, we’re not pulling your leg. Heat pumps are able to reverse their operation in order to provide both heating and cooling. How is this possible? Thanks to a component called a reversing valve,  which allows you to reverse the refrigerant flow in the system.

AC Fundamentals

To really understand how heat pumps work, you need to understand how air conditioning works. ACs cool homes by evaporating refrigerant in the indoor coil. That refrigerant absorbs heat out of the air, and that heat is released outside as the outdoor coil condenses the refrigerant.

By reversing this heat transfer process, your heat pump can evaporate refrigerant in the outdoor coil. In doing so, the system can absorb heat from the air outside and use it to heat the interior of your home! It condenses the refrigerant in the indoor coil when in its heating mode, flipping the whole process!

What This Means for Cost

Great news here, too. Not only does your heat pump give you the convenience of heating and cooling in one package, but it also heats with incredible energy efficiency. You’re not generating new heat by using electric resistance or burning fuel when you use a heat pump. Instead, you’re transferring existing heat into your home. The system just uses some electricity in order to run and compress the refrigerant to boost its thermal energy.

Take Advantage of Heat Pump Technology Today!

Our team is happy to help you decide if a heat pump is right for your home. We offer both standard air-source heat pumps and ductless mini split heat pumps for installation, so we’re certain to find the perfect system for your needs and personal preferences. Let us know if you’re ready to start saving money while living comfortably through our fun winter seasons.

Schedule your heat pump services with Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning. Big enough to serve, small enough to care.

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Heat Pump Problems

The heat pump is becoming a more and more popular option among homeowners in the market for new HVAC systems. It is not hard to understand why, considering heat pumps can function as effective air conditioners and also as highly efficient heating systems. What is a bit harder to understand for some users, however, is how this is even possible. The answer is that a heat pump is able to reverse its refrigeration cycle.

Because the refrigerant in these systems serves such an important purpose in both the heating and cooling process, it should be obvious that any issues with the refrigerant in the system are a serious problem. Refrigerant is not consumed by a heat pump, but rather operates in a closed loop and is just cycled through the system over and over. That means that low refrigerant levels indicate a leak, and that could spell big trouble for your heat pump in Loveland, CO.

 

How the Refrigerant Cycle Works

Refrigerant is such a great heat transfer fluid because it changes with ease from a liquid to a gas and back again. When cooling a home, refrigerant is evaporated in the indoor or evaporator coil. In a central AC this coil always performs this function, but heat pumps are able to flip the operation. As the refrigerant evaporates it absorbs heat from the air passing over the coil. Then it heads outdoors.

There, in the condenser coil, the refrigerant is condensed. This allows it to release its heat. The process is simply repeated over and over until the desired temperature is met. A heat pump can reverse the direction the refrigerant flows in, evaporating it outdoors and compressing it in order to heat a home. The warm refrigerant is then condensed in the indoor coil, which allows it to release its heat for use throughout the house.

Spotting Refrigerant Leaks

Have you noticed that your energy costs are starting to spike even though you haven’t been using your system any more than is normal? Is it taking longer and longer for your heat pump to adjust temperatures to the desired level, causing it to work much harder than it should have to? Is your system running in short bursts, overheating and short cycling? If so, then you may well have a refrigerant leak.

You may actually be able to hear refrigerant escaping from your refrigerant lines, as the pressurized gas can cause a hissing sound as it escapes the system. In the winter, your heat pump may ice over if refrigerant is low as well, and you may simply not be comfortable in your home.

Forcing your heat pump to run with a low refrigerant charge does not just result in decreased comfort and increased usage costs. It can also result in irreparable damage to the compressor. In that event, you’re likely going to be looking at a full replacement. If you suspect that you have a refrigerant leak, contact Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning right away.

Big enough to serve, small enough to care.

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We have still got a lot of sub-freezing Heating__iStock_000002445972_Medium-300x225 weather headed our way before this winter season is over. How has your heater fared so far? If you’ve been unimpressed with your aging heater’s performance, if you’re a bit shell-shocked by the cost of heating your home this season, you may be thinking about replacing your heater once the weather finally warms up once more. If this is the case, then we strongly recommend that you consider the use of a hybrid heating system in Fort Collins, CO.

A hybrid heating system is unique in that it actually utilizes two different methods of heating in order to strike a balance between reliability and efficiency. More on that below.

Before we go any further, we do just want to remind you that even the most dependable equipment from the best manufacturers in the industry will falter if not expertly installed, serviced, and maintained. That is why you should leave all of your heating services to our technicians. 

What Does “Hybrid” Heating Mean?

A hybrid heating system is one that uses a heat pump and a secondary system in order to heat a home. Typically, this means a gas furnace is used in conjunction with the heat pump in order to maximize both efficiency and reliability. The systems won’t run at the same time. Instead, the most efficient and effective system for any given scenario will be the one heating the home.

Why Is Hybrid Heating Necessary?

Modern heat pumps are much more effective in extremely cold climates. However, they still have their limitations. Unlike environments such as that in Oregon or Washington, we have extremely cold weather during our winter seasons. Single digits are not at all uncommon during the nights. While a modern heat pump may be able to handle that level of cold, it is likely not going to do so efficiently. If the system winds up having to make up the difference by generating heat with electricity, it will be substantially more expensive to run. That is where the gas furnace comes into play.

When Should I Switch to Gas?

The great thing about a hybrid heating system is that you don’t have to choose which system you run when. For the most part, the heat pump is going to handle the heating of your home. Heat pumps transfer existing heat into the house, which is why they are so incredibly efficient. When the efficiency of the heat pump drops below a certain point, using natural gas to heat the house will make more sense. The system will automatically make this switch for you. Once the heat pump is able to resume its efficient heating, the system will make the switch back over to that heating method.

You Get Cooling, Too!

Because a heat pump does double duty, offering cooling for the summer season as well, a hybrid heating system is all that you’ll need for year-round comfort. This versatility, along with the system’s efficiency and reliability, really make it difficult to contend with. If you’re ready to take advantage of all that hybrid heating has to offer, give us a call.

Schedule your heating services with Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning, the company you can trust.

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Chances are that you don’t need us to point out just how hot the weather is at this point. It’s going to be a while yet before temperatures begin to cool off, so hopefully you have a reliable and effective air conditioning system in place. If you’ve come to realize that your system just won’t cut it for the rest of the season, or if your AC has broken down entirely, though, we are happy to handle your replacement services.

One option that we often urge homeowners to consider is the heat pump. There are many benefits that you can enjoy as a result of using a heat pump in Fort Collins, CO. Read on, and contact us with any questions that you may have. 

Why Choose a Heat Pump

Right now, the heat is on everyone’s mind. It’s pretty much impossible to ignore temperatures as hot as we’re experiencing right now. The good news is that you can effectively cool your home using a heat pump. In fact, heat pumps operate in much the same manner as more traditional split central air conditioners. Why, then, opt for this type of system? Because unlike a traditional split air conditioner, a heat pump can reverse its operation.

During the winter season, when temperatures plummet below comfortable levels, you can use a heat pump in order to draw heat out of the air outside. The warm refrigerant is then further compressed, and its thermal energy is used in order to heat the interior space of your home. This is an incredibly efficient way in which to heat your home, as the heat pump does not actually have to consume fuel to generate heat. Instead, the heat transfer process is utilized.

Schedule your HVAC services with Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning: Big enough to serve, small enough to care.

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There are a lot of reasons to consider using a heat pump in order to keep your home comfortable. These systems are very efficient, quite reliable, and offer homeowners the convenience of both heating and cooling their homes with just one system. As great as heat pumps are, though, you must remember that there is no such thing as a perfect or 100% reliable mechanical system. At some point, you are going to encounter operational problems of some sort with your heat pump. When you do, we recommend that you contact a member of our team immediately. The sooner that any necessary heat pump repairs in Fort Collins, CO are completed, the better off your system is likely to be. Give Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning a call if you notice any sign of trouble. 

  • Reduced Energy Efficiency: Heat pumps are renowned for the efficiency with which they heat homes. Existing heat is utilized in the process, so only a very small amount of energy is required. Heat pumps cool homes quite efficiently as well, though, so any drop in efficiency levels should be considered cause for concern. If the cost of running your heat pump spikes with no obvious cause, you may have a problem requiring professional repair services.
  • Stuck in a Mode: Your heat pump uses a component called the reversing valve in order to reverse the flow of its refrigerant cycle. If your system is not switching over from its heating to cooling mode, or vice versa, the reversing valve could be damaged. This is a major problem, obviously, so contact us as soon as you realize your system won’t switch operating modes.
  • Icing: When you run an air conditioning system, you may not give the development of ice much thought. After all, you are using that system to cool your home, right? Well, the problem with this is that your AC, heat pumps included, should never develop ice. This is not a sign that the system is really working in order to cool your home. Instead, it could bet the result of poor airflow, refrigerant leaks, or other problems.
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When it comes to the question of having any kind of heating system installed in your house, the initial answer is usually, “Maybe.” Regardless of the advantages a particular type of heater can offer you during a Colorado winter, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Each home has unique requirements for heating and cooling it. Local weather, humidity, power sources, and even elevation can affect how well an HVAC system works for a home.

With that caveat out of the way, let’s look at the heat pump, one of the most popular options for solving indoor comfort needs. For more information on our Loveland, CO heat pump services, contact the professionals at Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning.

A heat pump works as an air conditioner that can reverse the direction of heat exchange so it acts as a heater when necessary. A standard AC uses refrigerant to move heat from your home and release it outside. A heat pump uses a reversing valve and second compressor to change over and move heat from outside into your home. Unlike furnaces and boilers, which use up large amounts of fuel to run—whether electricity, natural gas, or another source—heat pumps only need a small amount of electricity to run, which makes them highly efficient.

There are also geothermal heat pump systems available, which draw heat right from the ground (or place it into the ground).

However, heat pumps have the drawback that they are not as efficient at heating as they are at cooling. They may work well for you during a hot summer, but in extreme cold temperatures in homes with poor insulation, a heat pump can struggle to get you the best comfort. Geothermal systems are also unsuitable for many homes because of the extensive installation requirements.

The best way to answer the question, “Should I get a heat pump in my home?” with anything stronger than, “Maybe,” is to have professionals do a heat load calculation to determine your house’s specific needs. This complex calculation takes into account numerous factors in your home to come up with a focused idea on what kind of heater will do the best job. Get an experienced HVAC company to do a heat load calculation, and listen to their advice on whether a heat pump is the right choice for your home.

Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning offers heat pump and geothermal heat pump installation, as well as repairs and maintenance. Our decades of experience can help you in Loveland, CO when a heat pump starts looking like a good option.

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