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If you heat your home with a heat pump, but are experiencing higher than expected energy bills check out the solutions below.

First read the FAQ, Why are my energy bills so high? as your hydro bill may be high for reasons unrelated to your heat pump

If you feel that you aren’t benefiting from the high efficiency of your heat pump systems, the following operating tips and information should be considered:

  • Building envelope – regardless of what system is used to heat and cool your home, the importance of an airtight and well insulated building envelope cannot be understated. Air leakage caused by cracks and gaps in the building envelope, along with inadequate insulation will force your heating system to work harder in the winter, and your cooling system to work harder in the summer. Heating and cooling systems consume more energy and cost more to operate when they have to work harder to maintain the desired temperature. Draftproofing and upgrading insulation in areas like your attic or basement/ crawlspace is a great place to start and can improve the building envelope and reduce energy loss, resulting in energy and cost savings. Speak with an insulation and air sealing contractor or an EnerGuide Rating System energy advisor to help you understand why your energy bills may be so high.
  • Thermostat location – the location of your thermostat is important. A thermostat that is located in the direct path of a heating register senses that the living area is warm before the area has actually reached the desired temperature. This can cause the unit to short-cycle, which turns the heat pump off before the living space has been conditioned. Conversely, thermostats placed next to drafty windows or doors may not sense when the living space has reached the desired temperature. This can lead to over-heating and increased energy consumption. If you suspect the location of your thermostat is an issue – speak with a professional heat pump contractor about the options and costs of moving the thermostat to a more appropriate location.
  • Setting your thermostat – the air source heat pump indoor thermostat should be set at the desired comfort temperature and not readjusted. Repeatedly adjusting the indoor thermostat, or turning the unit on and off may cause the heat pump system’s supplementary heating system to kick in – causing your heating system to use more energy and increase your energy bills. We recommend checking your heat pump user’s manual for the recommended set point of your heat pump. In the cold winter months it is best to set your heat pump thermostat at your desired temperature and leave it at that temperature, this will reduce the number of times your heat pumps supplementary system will kick in (saving you money). If you wish to set back your thermostat do not set it back more than 2 degrees (for example if your preferred temperature is 21 degrees, do not set back your thermostat to lower than 19 degrees).
  • Emergency heat is only for emergencies – most thermostats have an emergency setting that when selected, forces your supplementary (back-up) heating system to kick in and take over 100% of the heating for the home. This can be expensive as the back-up heating system is less efficient than the heat pump. The emergency setting should only be selected when the heat pump is malfunctioning.
  • Do not use AUTO mode – AUTO mode allows the heat pump to switch from cooling to heat automatically. This can cause the system to switch modes when it is not necessary. It is recommended to keep the heat pump in “Heat” mode in the winter and “Cool” mode in the summer.
  • Review the owner’s manual – not all heat pumps are the same. Each brand and model of heat pump will have its own recommended set point and other operating suggestions to maximize the efficiency of that specific model of heat pump. Review your owner’s manual and discuss with your contractor the best way to operate your heat pump.

Did you see a building science or energy efficiency term you did not understand? Check out our glossary.