Are heat pumps the best way to save your power bill this winter?

Jul 14, 2020
By Staff writer

 During wintertime, it’s common for power bills to rise dramatically due to the high usage of heating equipment, to survive the cold.

Oil and gas heaters are commonly used all around the world, but in the last decade heat pumps have taken over with many people opting for the heat efficient, clean energy option.

You’ll want to find a heating solution to your frozen limbs this winter that is cost efficient. Here, we discuss whether heat pumps are that solution and whether they’ll save you money. 


What is a heat pump?

Heat pumps are popular heating devices in New Zealand because of the clean green image it retains and because of how effective it is at heating rooms.

It’s electricity-based instead of using gas, so it reduces the environmental impact and it’s also known for being very quiet.

It works by transferring the heat energy from a source of heat through a cycle of evaporation and condensation and releases this heat energy into your home.

Heat pumps were considered the way of the future decades ago due to it’s impressive functionality and technology adaptation.

The remote allows you to turn a fan on or off, increase or decrease the temperature, and it automatically turns off when the room has reached the desired temperature – how convenient is that!

Another awesome thing about the heating pump is that, if there is heat outside then the heat pump reverses the direction so that in the summer it can act as an air conditioner. Just consider it a 2 for 1 investment!


Family enjoying their heat pump together.


Are heat pumps more efficient?

Ultimately, it depends how you use it. You have to make sure it’s properly installed, sized and used in the right way, otherwise it could even be less efficient than other heating appliances. 

Generally, if you are using your heat pump correctly, you should see your power bill go down, no matter what power company you are with.


Other advantages of heat pumps 

While the potential reduced costs of running a heat pump is awesome, there are plenty of other advantages too that will make you wonder why you didn’t invest in one sooner. 

Comfort is an aspect that you just can’t experience with some other heating appliances, as fan heaters and gas heaters often concentrate the heating in one place which can be uncomfortable.

With heat pumps, since their heating is controlled and optimised for humidity levels, they are often considered the most comfortable heating appliance.

It also turns off automatically when the room has reached the temperature you set on the remote, thus not allowing the room to get uncomfortably hot or cold.


It is also generally more convenient to use than the other heating gears. This is because heat pumps provide the filtered air while most other heating options don’t have this facility.

So, due to the extraction of filtered air, it is better for allergy patients and asthma patients.

Other heating equipment often produces mass amounts of carbon dioxide and fills the air with the moisture that can be harmful to you and your family. 


You might remember the fire safety advertisement played on television years before the heat pump first came out, where a child is sitting too close to the gas heater and his pyjamas catch on fire.

Heat pumps eliminates these safety risks that other appliances may have as they have no hot surface and no flames that your children can touch and burn themselves on.

How do heat pumps affect your power bills? 

Every single unit of the heat pump that used will increase the electricity bill by $50 - $100 per month. However, it will reduce the heating fuel bill too due to the general cost of oil being considerably higher than the electricity costs of running a heat pump.

It’s almost important to consider the upfront cost of the heat pump, as this can be quite expensive. However, once it’s installed into your home, you’re more than likely going to be saving money on your monthly bills. 


Using your heat pump efficiently:

Winter can be a pricy season as costs tend to rise quite a bit. Thus, it’s important to run all of your appliances efficiently, especially your heat pump so that you can use it without worrying too much about the costs. Here are some easy tips that you can follow. 


Use the timer feature

Surprisingly, heat pump owners often don’t know that heat pumps normally have a timer feature. You should consider using this feature if your heat pump has it, as you can set it to turn on or off automatically at particular times.

This can be very useful especially if you’re coming back from work and you don’t want to come back to a cold house, you can set the timer to turn on 15 minutes before you’re expecting to arrive home.

Those chilly early mornings can also be a great time to use this timing feature, as you can get out of bed knowing that you’ll be entering a warm room.


Set the heat pump to an optimal temperature 

The best way to use the heat pumps is to keep setting the temperature some-what low, from around 18ºC to 20 ºC.

Setting your heat pump to the maximum temperature is not the most efficient way to use it; it will not heat your room quicker, but instead it will use more energy.


Prepare your heat pump for the winter 

Prepare for the winter by cleaning your heat pump before you need to use it. The idea of cleaning such a machine may be daunting, but it’s fairly quick and straightforward.

Use the heat pump manual (if available) to take apart the heat pump and clean both the indoor and the outdoor filter at least once a year. 


Use the heat pump only in rooms you are occupying 

It goes without saying, but you should not have the heap pump running in bedrooms or other rooms that are not being used at that moment or rooms that are not going to be used within the next half an hour.

This is because it is a waste of money to have it running when you won’t even be in that room to enjoy the warmth. 


Trap the heat

A heat pump is most efficient for homes when the house itself can trap the heat within certain rooms, as it allows the heat to stay in the room long after the heat pump has been turned off.

You can trap the heat by doing small things like closing doors and closing curtains, but also you should consider insulating your house if it isn’t already.

It will make the heat pump more energy efficient as you won’t have to keep the heat pump running for the entire day as the insulation will do its magic by keeping the heat in the room for a long period of time. 


Tips for choosing heat pumps:

Heat pumps are an efficient and effective way of using electricity to heat your house, but you should choose your heat pump wisely, based on your needs.

Before buying the heat pump, you should consider several factors, such as which rooms to put the heat pump in and the type of heat pump you should buy.

There are three types of heat pumps you can buy: air-source heat pumps which are the most commonly installed, split-ductless heat pumps and geothermal heat pumps. The type of heat pump that you should buy depends on your own needs and your living situation, so you should also take into account things like the climate, the size of your home and more. 

Be sure to check that the heat pump you are planning to buy is well known and from a trustworthy brand as you don’t want to go buying a dodgy heat pump.

You should educate yourself about your heat pump efficiency; take help from the energy star ratings that are placed on the heat pumps as they give an indication as to what heat pumps are the most efficient.  


Alternatives to using heat pumps

While heat pumps are the only clean heating method available at this very moment, there are other alternatives that you can use if the cost of the actual heat pump is too hefty, such as oil heaters, fan heaters, wood burners are more.

These heating methods tend to be cheaper than heat pumps, but they have their cons. They can be inconvenient as they might not be as energy efficiency; it is expensive to purchase and install. Also with the rising prices of fuel, it becomes challenging to maintain and replace.

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