Heat pumps are a hugely popular method of heating in New Zealand - and not just for the colder months! With the ability to cool air as well as heat it, more and more people are turning to heat pumps as their air conditioning solution for the summer. As a multi-purpose investment, demand has ramped up and so too has the range available. But with so many options to choose from, choosing the right heat pump for your home can be a daunting task.
In this article, we’ll look at the most important considerations. Should you get a ceiling mounted, high wall or floor mounted heat pump? Should you insulate your home first? What size heat pump do you need? And more.
As we head into winter, the weather gets cooler and many of us can face the rising costs of home heating. However, if you choose the right heating solution, you heat your home more energy efficiently and live in a warmer, cosier home.
The main advantage of heat pumps over other heating solutions is that they offer a very efficient form of heat – in fact, heat pumps are the most energy-efficient method of using electricity to heat or cool your home and the heating output of a heat pump is 2-4 times the energy input. You can check out and compare the efficiency and running costs of a heat pump versus other appliances here.
A heat pump is like a reverse refrigerator.
Two coils, one inside your home and one outside, draw warmth from the outside air and transfer it into your house. Because a heat pump doesn’t require heating elements it is energy efficient to run.
It can also be used to cool your house during the summer.
Standalone heat pumps have a single outdoor unit connected to one or more indoor units. The warm or cool air produced by standalone heat pumps is only focused in the rooms that house a unit. On one hand, this means they can be used more efficiently, only heating or cooling the rooms that you will be using. However, this also means that you may not be able to control the temperature in all of your rooms, leaving some parts of the house cooler in the winter.
Ducted heat pumps, however, supply warm or cool air into every room in the house through ducts, usually located in the roof space or beneath the house. Generally speaking, ducted heat pumps are a great option for people who do not want visible heat pump units inside their homes and would like to control the temperature of the whole house. The entire system is managed by a single control, meaning each room will share the same temperature. Ducting also requires a more intensive installation process and can generally be more costly.
The size of the heat pump you require depends mostly on the size of the room you want to heat. If you buy a heat pump that is too small, it may struggle to keep the room at the required temperature and will use more energy to do so. Too large, and the heat pump will need to cycle on and off to keep the temperature in the desired range.
A heat pump expert can tell you exactly what size you require and help you choose the perfect system for your home.
There are two aspects to consider when it comes to price. The price of the installed unit and the ongoing running costs.
Not all heat pumps are created equal. Some heat pumps are considerably more energy-efficient than others, so it pays to consider the energy efficiency rating in your purchase decision. EES specialists can talk you through the various options.
Look for the EECA star rating.
EECA is New Zealand’s government agency that works to improve the energy efficiency of our homes. They have implemented a star rating system for appliances to help consumers make good energy choices. The more stars, the more energy efficient an electrical appliance.
However, energy efficiency isn’t just about the pump. You also need to consider the room in which it will be installed. Is the room well insulated? If so, the pump will require less energy to operate, leading to greater energy efficiency.
You can also achieve greater efficiency by using the heat pump wisely. For example, setting your heat pump at the highest heat setting to heat your house quickly uses a lot of energy. It’s often more efficient to set the pump at a constant desired heat and let the room heat up gradually.
Heat pumps can heat a room quickly, so it’s unnecessary to leave them running all day. Also, keep in mind that bedrooms can run slightly cooler than the main living areas.
Heat pumps can be installed in most rooms however they do need to be located correctly in order to perform well. Heat pumps also require electrical work which needs to be undertaken by registered tradespeople, so be sure to build this into your cost assessment or find a heat pump expert like EES who offer a full end-to-end service.
A back-to-back installation, where the heat pump units are located on either side of the same wall, can be installed within hours, whereas a more complex installation, where piping is needed to connect the units can take longer. An expert can assess this for you.
It’s a good idea to ensure your room has a high standard of insulation before selecting a heat pump. If your room loses heat quickly due to poor insulation, then the heat pump needs to be bigger in order to maintain heat. This can mean higher operating costs.
The location of the heat pump can make a big difference in terms of effectiveness and aesthetics. It’s best not to put them close to any area where people are sitting, such as directly facing a couch, as the airflow, whilst gentle, may be annoying. High wall heat pumps are usually chosen for this reason.
Floor units are a good option when wall space is at a premium or not available, such as a bedroom or study that may have artwork, planners and shelves covering the walls.
If the heat pump is installed facing a hallway, or doors to other rooms, you may benefit from heat flowing into those rooms. You could also opt for a ducted heat pump which will act like a central heating system flowing air via ceiling or floor ducts throughout the house. This is probably the least intrusive option, with the system hidden away from sight.
Following installation, you receive an Electrical Code of Compliance certificate from your electrician. This certificate confirms that the wiring of your heat pump meets New Zealand's current safety standards.
Outdoor conditions will also affect your heat pump selection. Some areas in New Zealand experience sub-zero temperatures which require larger heat pumps than temperate regions. Queenstown and Auckland have quite different requirements, so appropriate unit selection is important.
Also consider noise levels. Modern inverter heat pumps are very quiet. The main source of noise in a heat pump comes from the air impinging on the grille as it is forced out of the unit, however, this air noise is marginally higher than ambient background noise. An advisor can help you select the quietest units.
A heat pump doesn’t require much looking after, but there are a few tasks required in order to keep it running at maximum efficiency.
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