How Does A Heat Pump Work?

If it’s time to replace your furnace and central air conditioning system or if you are building a new home, consider installing an energy efficient heat pump.  Whether you choose an air source or ground source heat pump, you will enjoy years of energy efficient heating and cooling without sacrificing comfort.

A heat pump works just like a central air conditioning system in the summer.  It uses refrigerant to absorb indoor heat and move it outside your home.  A refrigerator works using the same principles.  Refrigerant is used to absorb heat inside the refrigerator and release the heat outside the refrigerator box leaving the inside of the refrigerator nice and cold.

Refrigerators and air conditioners are types of heat pumps that work in a single direction.  A heat pump used for home heating and cooling works in two directions.  The energy efficiency advantage of a heat pump comes into play in the winter months when the heat pump is used for heating.  The refrigerant flow is reversed and the refrigerant absorbs heat from outdoors and releases it inside the home.

A heat pump can extract heat from the outside air even in below freezing temperatures.  However, an air source heat pump’s efficiency declines as the outdoor temperatures decrease.  This is less of a problem for a ground source heat pump since the temperatures below ground remain relatively stable year round.

When operating in heating mode, a heat pump is far more efficient than an electric resistance type heater because it moves heat instead of creating heat.  It takes much more electricity to create heat than it does to move it using a heat pump.

Heat pumps are usually less expensive to operate than natural gas, propane, or oil fired home heating systems.  The cost savings with a heat pump depends on the cost of the fuel but the savings is usually significant.