I need to get a new super-high-efficiency heat pump to lower my sky-high electric bills. I also want one that is quiet and reliable. What types are available? What do all the heat pump terms mean? G.Y.A - Switching to a super-high-efficiency heat pump can cut your heating and air-conditioning bills by 30% or more. Some can provide $3 worth of heat for each $1 you pay your electric company. Many of the new designs use special compressors and motors that are very quiet and reliable.
The most recent innovation is the scroll compressor design for heat pumps. Scroll compressors operate differently with very few moving parts. Without the reciprocating pistons and hardware of a standard compressor, scroll compressors are quieter.
As these few scroll parts wear over years of operation, they actually seal and operate more smoothly than when they were new. They are very reliable and should continue to operate at high efficiency levels as they age.
Some of the highest-efficiency heat pumps use two-speed or variable-speed compressors and blowers to fine tune the heat output to your house's changing requirements. This not only saves electricity, but it improves your comfort level. Special high-efficiency fan motors are used.
On milder days or on sunny winter afternoons, the heat pump runs at the slower speed. Therefore, it doesn't have to cycle on and off as often as a single-speed compressor. This reduces overall inefficiencies. It also reduces temperature fluctuations in your home and provides more run time for your furnace-mounted air cleaner or filter.
Even if you now have a gas or oil furnace, you may consider installing a heat pump instead of just a central air conditioner. Depending on your local electric rates, it may be less expensive to operate a heat pump than your furnace during milder weather. Always have a contractor do a payback analysis before purchasing any new system.
Several of the common heat pump terms you will encounter are - Coefficient of Performance (COP), Heating Season Performance Factor (HSPF) and Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The COP compares the heat output of a heat pump to that of an electrical resistance furnace. This can be as high as 3 times as much heat for the same amount of electricity usage.
The HSPF is another more comprehensive measure of heating efficiency. It takes into account the
startup inefficiencies, defrost losses, etc., for a typical house. SEER is similar to HSPF, but for the cooling operation.
You can write to me for UTILITY BILLS UPDATE No. 244 showing a list of manufacturers of super-high-efficiency heat pumps, heating and air conditioning efficiency ratings, and output capacities. Write to James Dulley, The Deseret News, 6906 Royal Green Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244. Please include $1.00 and self-addressed, STAMPED BUSINESS-SIZE envelope.
Q - I have installed low-flow shower heads to save hot water. Now the water from the shower does not feel as warm as before. Can the showerhead make the water cooler? E.R.
A - Some designs of low-flow shower heads produce extremely small droplets to get a forceful spray. This can result in cooler water by the time it contacts your body. A smaller droplet has greater surface area for its volume than a larger droplet. Therefore, it cools off quicker in the air before it gets to your body.
Don't set your water temperature higher or you will lose some of the savings. Try an adjustable shower head arm to shorten the distance.