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If you're going to be gone two or more days, turn off your hot water heating system and set the thermostat settings higher if its summer and lower if its winter and save 10% to 20% off your annual bill.

Save Energy with a Heat Pump

A heat pump is a unique type of electric heating system that absorbs heat from outdoors and delivers it into the home. Because it takes less energy to move heat than to convert electricity into heat, a heat pump uses less energy and costs less to operate than other types of electric heating systems.

When purchasing a new heat pump, be sure to check the efficiency rating of the proposed unit. A higher efficiency rating will result in lower operating costs. Heat pump efficiency is designated by the terms "HSPF" (Heating Season Performance Factor) for heating and "SEER" (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) for cooling. New units have HSPFs ranging from 6.8 to 9.0 and SEERs ranging from 10.0 to over 16.0.

For split systems with an outdoor unit and an indoor coil, the efficiency varies with the match between the indoor cooling coil and outdoor condensing unit. The manufacturer should be consulted to determine the combined efficiency. The American Refrigeration Institute (ARI) publishes an annual directory listing various combinations of outdoor units and indoor coils with their SEER rating. Most major manufacturers' product lines are included in this directory.

New high-efficiency heat pumps incorporate some or all of the following improvements:

  • Variable speed blowers, compressors, and motors - these features increase efficiency by matching the speed (and therefore the power consumption) to the operating conditions. Heat pumps utilizing multi-speed components will typically start in the first stage or low speed. If comfort levels or control settings cannot be satisfied with the first stage, the second stage or higher speed will activate. Some heat pump systems have more than two stages or speeds of operation.
  • Scroll compressors –– this improved compressor design increases efficiency while also reducing operating noise.
  • Larger coil surface areas - increased surface area provides maximum heat transfer efficiency.
  • Larger coil surface areas - increased surface area provides maximum heat transfer efficiency.
  • •• Time delays - these controls vary the on and off cycles of compressors, motors, and supplemental heat packages to capture the maximum amount of heating or cooling.

Other Energy-Efficiency Features

Besides a unit's HSPF and SEER, there are additional energy saving features to look for when selecting a heat pump for your home.

  • Dual fuel back-up- these heat pump systems are supplemented by a fossil fuel furnace instead of the traditional electric resistance coils. When outdoor temperatures are moderate, the home’’s heating requirements can be satisfied by the heat pump alone. When outdoor temperatures are below the economic balance point, the heat pump is switched off and the furnace supplies the heat at close to its peak efficiency.
  • Programmable setback thermostats - specially designed heat pump thermostats with an adaptive-recovery or "ramping" feature allow the thermostat to be programmed for one or more "setback" periods per day without relying on the more expensive supplemental heating to bring the temperature back up. Their microprocessor unit senses the temperature difference to be overcome when bringing the space temperature back up, and brings the temperature up gradually over a longer period of time. This allows the heat pump alone to provide the temperature increase and minimizes the use of the more costly electric resistance auxiliary heat.

Operation & Maintenance

The following are some guidelines that should be followed to ensure efficient, comfortable operation of heat pumps.

In the heating mode, don’t set the temperature back at night or when you are at work unless a programmable heat pump thermostat is used. Since heat pumps operate differently than fossil fuel heating systems, setbacks using a standard thermostat can actually increase energy consumption. This is due to the use of supplemental heaters to bring the house temperature back to the desired setpoint. Use of supplemental heaters will reduce the efficiency of the heat pump system and result in higher energy costs.

  • Keep the temperature setpoint consistent. A standard heat pump thermostat has two controls, one for the heat pump and one for the supplemental heat. If the temperature difference between the room and thermostat setpoint is more than 2E° or 3E° F, the supplemental heat will be activated. Manually adjusting the thermostat will result in greater reliance on the supplemental heaters and will reduce the efficiency of the heat pump system and increase operating costs.
  • Replace filters regularly. Vacuum dirt and dust from the indoor coil once a year to prevent restricted airflow. Adequate air flow through a heat pump system is critical to ensure efficient and comfortable operation.
  • Keep supply vents open and free from obstruction. Closing off supply vents will restrict air flow and reduce system efficiency, and potentially shorten the life of the compressor.

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