One of the things that I like the most about living on the Crystal Coast is that we get to play the heat pump game.
The goal of the game is to have your heat pump run as little as possible or worst case to run with the best possible efficiency.
Our game would be a real challenge in most places that we have lived, but here on North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks our climate is temperate enough that we can go weeks without having our heat pump run.
In fact today is April 11, and I suspect that our heat pump has not run for most of the last couple of weeks.
In an average year here at the coast (click on monthly tab to see averages), our temperatures get very nice by the end of March. We have gone into early July before having to run the heat pumps in air conditioning mode. Having some hot spells in early June and late May is certainly possible, but those twists are what make the game fun and sometimes challenging.
Most houses are not designed for very efficient natural cooling, but our Bluewater Cove home ended up having very effective cooling more by chance than anything. In the winter time we have lots of windows that get sunshine and keep the heat pumps quiet on nice days. Heat tends to rise, and the inside of our house takes advantage of that.
When it starts getting hot, we close the blinds during the day, open the windows in the evening, and sometimes leave them open all night. Our living room is open to the second floor. If I leave the windows open in my second floor office and the adjoining second floor bedroom, it sets up a crossflow breeze which sucks all the heat out of our house. Since we live on the water we usually have a breeze almost every evening.
As I explained in my post about Carolina fog being more useful than Canadian fog, our house can heat to near 80 degrees on a nice spring afternoon. However, if we open the right windows and leave them open all night, the house will cool to the mid sixties by morning. As the temperature starts to rise, I close the windows, usually before 9 AM to keep the cool air inside. Most days in late March, April, and May, we can make it until evening without air conditioning. Once evening arrives, we open the windows and the house cools down once again. If we get a cool or rainy day, we just keep the windows closed and enjoy the warmth.
We eventually get to a period when the air conditioning might come on for an hour or two late in the afternoon, but that is still better than the heat of mid July and August when our heat pumps stay busy.
We also play the game in the winter. On cold winter days when heat pumps aren't very efficient, we will often run our vent-less gas logs until the outside air temperature reaches the point where heat pumps work efficiently.
The heat pump game sure beats having to pay for heating and air conditioning twelve months out of the year. The right house, in a good spot on the water here on the Crystal Coast has saved us heating and cooling money.