To ensure your customers are happy with their new heat pump system, it’s important to help them understand how to operate the equipment properly. Many homeowners with new heat pump systems are unaware that they operate differently than traditional heating systems and don’t know how to maximize their performance. Through Abode’s satisfaction surveying of customers that have installed systems, customers consistently rate contractors the lowest when it comes to explaining how to operate their systems.  This is especially the case for installations where the heat pump is being used in conjunction with an existing fossil fuel heating system, with data showing that approximately 50% of heat pump systems are either turned off or displaced over the course of the heating season. Therefore, it is important to educate heat pump customers on how to operate their heat pumps so that they can maximize runtime and energy savings for their home. 

Perhaps the most important control strategy to convey to new heat pump owners is the ‘set and forget’ approach. With traditional fossil fuel systems, it is common for homeowners to use a setback program or manually reduce the home’s indoor temperature setting overnight to reduce heating costs. However, it is recommended to set a heat pump to a fixed temperature and only make minor changes when the indoor temperature is noticeably uncomfortable. This lets the heat pump operate most efficiently, which homeowners may find counterintuitive. Additionally, customers should be made aware that they should not set their heat pump thermostat on the “Auto” setting. While it’s natural to think “Auto” mode would be a more efficient setting, using it runs the risk of toggling unnecessarily between heating and cooling modes on mild days. Heat pumps will run most efficiently when set to “Heat” in winter and “Cool” in summer.

Supplemental heat pump systems without integrated controls may be underutilized as customers have greater control over when the heat pump is operated. Customers should aim to maximize heat pump runtime by figuring out the lowest temperature at which the heat pump can comfortably heat the home without needing backup. When running a backup, homeowners should set the backup’s thermostat 5-10 degrees lower than usual and let the heat pump pick up the slack. Implementing these strategies will allow customers to get the most out of their heat pump system and maximize energy savings. 

Lastly, it is also important to educate customers on regular maintenance to ensure their heat pump is operating as designed, including cleaning/replacing the indoor air filters on a regular basis, keeping the outdoor unit clear of any snow or debris that could block airflow, and following the manufacturer’s guidelines for servicing checkups. While some of these recommendations seem rather obvious or minor, they have an impact on the effectiveness and comfort of their new system. Educating customers on how to best operate their heat pump system leads to a better customer experience, which will ultimately drive future heat pump adoption.