At one time, heat pumps were not a reliable source for keeping a home warm during extremely cold winters. They were better suited to mild winter climates, so a heat pump in Vermont wouldn’t make much sense. The times have changed, however, and the technology of heat pumps has come far enough that they can work efficiency even when the temperature plunges past freezing.
To make sure that your heat pump stays working at its energy-efficient best, there are a few things you can do:
Have the outdoor cabinet kept clear
The outdoor cabinet of a heat pump (the compressor) need to have room to “breathe.” The fan inside the cabinet draws air over the refrigerant coils in order to absorb the thermal energy that will be released inside the house. If the fan has poor air flow because the cabinet is obstructed with plants or a fence, the heat pump will lose its energy efficiency. It will also run hotter, which will lower it life expectancy. Make sure that you give the heat pump cabinet clearance of 24 inches on all sides, trimming back shrubs and clearing away snow piles.
Change the air filter once a month
The air filter on a heat pump is usually on the side of its indoor cabinet where the duct of the return air vent meets it. Change this filter once a month (or clean it if it uses a permanent filter) to prevent obstructing the flow of air. A clogged filter will make the system overwork and drive up your bills.
You did arrange for maintenance for it, right?
This is a mistake that people sometime make with heat pumps: they only schedule routine maintenance in spring before the hot weather arrives. A heat pump must have maintenance twice a year, so if you forgot to schedule it in the fall, don’t wait for the spring! Have the maintenance done now so the system won’t lose it energy efficiency during the rest of the winter.