Tips for using your heat pump

Installing a heat pump is the first step in ensuring you have the most efficient technology to meet your home's heating and cooling needs. Using your heat pump properly and maintaining it regularly will offer you the best performance, energy savings, and the most lifespan out of your unit.

Seasonal tips

Staying warm in the winter with a heat pump

Setting the temperature back at night or when you're away during the day, like work or school, isn't recommended – which can be a big change if you're used to managing a baseboard heating or gas furnace system. Ductless heat pumps aren't designed to quickly raise the temperature and much like a car getting better gas mileage when driving at a steady speed, your mini-split heat pump operates more efficiently this way.

The same is true for central heat pumps if trying to quickly heat the home in a short time. If you're attempting to increase the temperature by more than 2°C, it may not be able to supply all of the heat required and will rely on the backup heating source until the heat pump ‘catches up.' Back-up heating sources are typically more expensive to operate and this will reduce the savings you would expect to have by using a heat pump. If you are going to be away for longer than 24 hours, you can turn your heat pump temperature down during your absence and gradually increase the temperature by 2°C at a time when you return.

General tips

Focus on your comfort and not the temperature setting

Heat pump systems heat the surrounding air differently than baseboard heaters and forced-air furnaces.

If you have a mini-split system, the temperature sensor on the mini-split indoor heat is closer to the ceiling where the air is naturally warmer. You will find that you may need to set the temperature higher than you're used to with baseboard heaters.

The air from a central heat pump is cooler than the air heated by a furnace. Heat pumps provide air in larger quantities at about 25°C to 45°C and tend to operate for longer periods. Set your heat pump to a comfortable temperature, then adjust the setting up or down over the course of a few days until you find the temperature setting that feels right for you.

Turn down your back up heating system and maximize your heat pump use

Your heat pump is the more efficient system and should be set to do most of the heating in your home. Your back-up heating system may be more expensive to run and should be used as a true 'back up' source when needed. Turn the down the temperature setting on your back up source to come on at least 5°C lower than your heat pump temperature.

Maximize your heat pump by using it to heat up as much of your home as it can handle. A heat pump is on average 200% more efficient that electric baseboard heating. Allow the heat pump to heat multiple rooms by turning up the fan and keeping bedrooms doors open. Direct the air flow downwards to promote circulation of the warm air. You might be surprised by how much of your home a heat pump can heat. It's a great way to reduce your home's heating costs.

System settings and maintenance

Set the heat pump mode to "Heat" in the winter and "Cool" in the summer, rather than "Automatic" mode, for increased efficiency. Automatic mode will automatically switch between heating and cooling based on indoor temperatures. Your system could start cooling on a sunny winter afternoon or heating on a cool summer night. Once you find a comfortable temperature setting on either "heat" or "cool" mode, you can "Set it and forget it" to maximize efficiency.

The "AUTO FAN" is a separate setting and is fine to use.

Get regular maintenance and inspections

Just like all other heating systems, regular maintenance will ensure your heat pump remains in peak working order and will provide you with efficient, cost-effective heating. Your heat pump manual will provide guidance on how to set your system up optimally for your needs and recommended maintenance schedule.

Schedule your installer follow up or maintenance visit in the season opposite to when you first installed your system. The installer will check the system settings to ensure they are set for optimal efficiency and comfort and make adjustments as needed.

They can adjust the thermostat settings to use the heat pump preferentially, and check the outdoor unit mounting for cracks, damage and clear of debris. Use the visit to have them answer your questions.

Consider scheduling regular maintenance every 1-2 years.

Heat pumps work best when dust filters are clean. Consult your heat pump's user manual on how to clean your unit. Cleaning frequency will depend on your system type (as an example, central systems ingest more dirt from returns on the floor), whether or not you own pets, the number of occupants in your home, etc. Filters on indoor units should be cleaned several times a year and replaced once a year. Cleaning a filter can improve the airflow in your home by as much as 30%.


Download this print-ready version of the heat pump maintenance tips [PDF, 37 KB]