How Do Heat Pumps Work in Cold Climates?

Heat pumps can be an amazing and cost effective alternative to conventional methods of heating. Plus, they tend to reduce your impact on the environment as they produce far less emissions. They can even be powered by renewable energy sources to completely remove your emissions footprint. However, not all of us live in warm climates where heat is easy for these systems to reach. If you are in a colder area, you need to know which (if any) systems will work for you. This page goes through this topic in detail, helping you to make the right choice.

The Best Climate for Heat Pumps

The best climate for all heat pumps is a moderate to warm one. This way, they are able to easily extract surrounding heat and convert it into energy at efficient levels. They can be used as either heaters or air conditioners, so even if you live in a hot country, you may find a heat pump to be a useful investment.

Some heat pumps work better in colder climates than others, as we will detail in the following sections. This is because, during the winter weather, heat pumps that have exposed piping need to work a lot harder to provide your home with the energy required to give it sufficient central heating or hot water.

If the heat pump system can’t get enough warmth from the air, then a supplementary system needs to be used in its place, which can increase your energy bills for a period of time. This can be inconvenient as the purpose of purchasing a heat pump is to save on your energy bills as well as use a greener source of energy.

Heat pumps with exposed piping tend to be more at risk in colder weather than those that have piping buried in the ground. The next sections will take you through the best cold weather models.


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Which Heat Pump is Best for Cold Weather?

Generally speaking, the ground source heat pump (or geothermal) is considered the best for use in cold weather. This is because it is buried under the earth, and the ground has a natural supply of warmth. Typically, the piping is buried far enough down that the frost and cold weather will not be able to reach it, and so it is prevented from freezing by the natural warmth that surrounds it.

This also means it does not lose efficiency at any point in the year. This is in contrast to the air source heat pump, which is installed outside. The next section takes a look at why it is not as suitable for cold weather in further detail.

Why Air Source Heat Pumps Lose Efficiency in Cold Climates

The amount of heat that your air source heat pump can transfer to your home is largely reliant on the overall outdoor temperature. At the temperature outside drops, so does the heat output of your air source heat pump.

The heating capacity of air source heat pumps tends to drop as the temperature decreases. The air source heat pumps tend to be sized to produce enough heat for 80-90% of the annual heating load, and it should be enough to fill 100% of the heating requirements for your home when temperatures are above freezing.

As a result, it is best that you have a backup heating source available when the temperature drops. That way, it can pick up the slack when your air source heat pump starts to decline in efficiency. If you don’t want to be hooked up to the gas mains or use typical heating methods, you can purchase large metal canisters of gas and use them in faux fireplaces in the home. These tend to be low in cost and also back up the air source heat pump nicely.

What to Do if Your Heat Pipe is Frozen

If your air source heat pump piping becomes frozen, this is not something to be immediately concerned about. It is normal for the pipes to suffer a little in the cold weather. What you must never do is pour antifreeze into the piping when it is frozen as this will end up making matters worse.

Your air source heat pump should naturally go into its defrost settings, which will throw all of its energy into thawing the ice that has formed in and around the piping. If it has not done this automatically, consult your owner’s guide and see if there is a way that you can manually start the defrosting process. Should this fail, call the company that supplied it and see what advice they have to offer.

Want to Know More?

Have you found yourself interested in heat pumps? If you want to know more then make sure you head to our Renewable Shop where you can find our full range of products, each with the relevant information. Or simply give us a ring using the number at the top of this page and have a chat.

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