Heat pumps are synonymous with efficiency. Though, as the name suggests, it’s an efficient alternative to heating your home, it can also cool your home during the hot summer months. The heating process can be reversed for an efficient alternative to standard air conditioning units. For savings on your energy bill, choose heat pump heating and cooling.
How does a heat pump do the job of both a furnace and an air conditioner? How can it save you money on your energy bill? Keep reading to learn how a heat pump works, its many benefits, and how it can save you money as well as maximize your comfort during all seasons.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump uses electricity to transfer heat rather than generate heat. Using a refrigeration cycle, it transfers thermal energy, moving heat from a cool space to a warm space. During the cooler months, the heat pump extracts heat from the outside air and redistributes this warm air throughout your house. During hotter months, the process is reversed, and the heat pump pulls the hot air from indoors and transfers it outdoors. This process of transferring heat enables many homeowners to downsize to one unit. Since a heat pump can heat and cool a home, this single system can replace both a furnace and an air conditioner.
In addition to comfortably heating and cooling your home during all seasons, heat pumps are remarkably efficient. Since they transfer rather than generate heat, heat pumps produce more heat energy than the electricity it takes to power the system. This is measured by the Coefficient of Performance (CoP). The CoP is a ratio expressing how many units of heat is produced by one unit of electricity. For instance, if a heat pump has a CoP of 3, then it produces 3 units of heat for every unit of electricity it uses. The higher the CoP rating, the more efficient the heat pump.
Since heat pumps use heat that is already present in the environment, they consume less electricity while transferring this heat. With good CoP ratings, a heat pump saves you energy while comfortably heating or cooling your house. The reduced energy can save you money on your energy bills while reducing your environmental impact.
How a Heat Pump Works in Cooling Mode
A standard air-source heat pump consists of an outdoor unit and an indoor unit. Each unit has its own copper or aluminum coil and a fan. Other key parts are the refrigerant, compressor, reversing valve, and expansion valve. They all work together to absorb the heat from either your home or outdoors and transfer it to the opposite space, depending on the current setting. The reversing valve reverses the flow of the refrigerant so that it can switch between heating and cooling.
When in cooling mode, the indoor unit acts as an evaporator, pumping refrigerant through the expansion valve at the indoor coil. The refrigerant absorbs the heat energy, transferring the now cool air throughout the home. The absorbed heat is then moved through a system of coils to the outdoor unit, where the fan moves the air across the outdoor coils, which act as a condenser. This heat is then redistributed outside, and then the cycle continues.
How a Heat Pump Works in Heating Mode
When in heating mode, the process is reversed, and the outdoor unit acts as the evaporator while the indoor unit acts as the condenser. This flow is reversed via the reversing valve. Now the heat energy is absorbed from the outside air and passed through the same components via coils and fans until it moves across the indoor unit, now acting as an evaporator. The heat energy is then released into the home.
Even when outside temperatures are cold, ambient heat can still be extracted from the air and redistributed into the home. Until recently, the caveat was that this was only possible in regions with mild winters, but technology has improved. ENERGY STAR now issues cold-climate heat pump certifications for units that meet low-temperature efficiency requirements. If you live in an area that has colder winters, a heat pump may still be an option. Talk to your HVAC contractor about finding the right unit for your climate.
Benefits of Making the Switch
Switching to heat pump heating and cooling provides a host of benefits. As mentioned, a heat pump is an efficient alternative to your traditional forced-air furnaces and air conditioning units. This means it can cost you less to heat and cool your home. Plus, heat pumps don’t burn fossil fuels so there are no additional carbon emissions. This means heat pumps can save you money while reducing carbon emissions. Save money and go green.
In addition to being eco-friendly and cost-effective, heat pumps maximize comfort and air quality. Heat pumps work quickly, heating or cooling a room within minutes. Plus, these units are typically quieter than conventional air conditioners. Enjoy your ideal indoor temperature without extra noise pollution. Also, you can rest easy knowing that you are breathing better-quality air. As the heat pump circulates the air, it filters out dust, mold spores, and other particles, cleaning and purifying the air. It also acts as a dehumidifier during the summer and prevents condensation during the winter.
Finally, heat pumps are considered safer than combustion-based heating systems. With gas furnaces, there is always a risk of gas leaks, fire, or explosion. Safely leave your heat pump on while you are out or while you are sleeping.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, contact Entek for your heating, cooling, and energy solutions and upgrade to a heat pump for your heating and cooling needs. We are committed to maintaining your comfort at home or at work through our highest standards of installation and service. Contact us today for a free estimate.