Have you ever wondered how standard air conditioning compares to air source heat pumps?
Air conditioners have been a cooling standard for many years and continue to be the cooling method of choice. Over the past few years, air conditioners have improved dramatically through increases in SEER ratings. SEER stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio” and is a rating that identifies the air conditioner’s efficiency. The higher the rating is, the better the efficiency of the unit. SEER ratings generally range from 14 to 18 SEER.
In our region of the nation, air conditioning units are typically used three months out of the year: June, July and August. On occasion, air conditioners are used in May and September. In other words, you could say that an air conditioner is typically used for three months of operation and nine months of hibernation. If you are like me, I like to get all of my money’s worth out of an air conditioner.
Air source heat pumps (ASHP) are an energy-efficient alternative to air conditioners, even in South Dakota's colder climates. They’re an attractive option because the ASHP is capable of providing efficient cooling along with heating.
ASHPs transfer heat from outside a building to inside a building, or vice versa, and use a refrigerant system involving a compressor and a condenser to absorb heat at one place and release it at another. That definition may be a mouthful, but in simple terms, an ASHP acts like an air conditioner in the summer and is a source of heat in the winter.
So, how does an ASHP work? It uses electricity to transfer energy between indoor and outdoor air. In cooling mode, heat pumps function like an air conditioner, moving heat from inside to outside the home. In heating mode, the ASHP uses a reversing valve to reverse the flow of refrigerant to extract low-temperature heat from outdoors and deliver concentrated high-temperature heat to the home.
About 60 percent of a typical winter in South Dakota is above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows the ASHP to provide you with two thirds of the heating during the season. When properly installed, an ASHP can deliver up to three times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy it consumes.
Because of today’s technology in ASHPs, many models continue to be energy efficient even when the temperature starts to drop below 20 degrees. One thing to keep in mind is when the temperature reaches a certain point , the ASHP will not be as efficient and you may need a supplemental source of heat to maintain the temperature. In the end, ASHPs can help lower your fuel bills, especially if you are replacing older, inefficient systems. They are easy to install and require little maintenance, and with a rebate of $600 from Souteastern Electric (rebate page), you can save even more. You can also put the ASHP on our special heat rate at $0.59/ kWh.