Nov 23, 2020
Why a heat pump can work just as well as other central heating and cooling solutions inside your home.
Let’s face it, every homeowner should know the basics about their HVAC system and accompanying components. How they work to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In its simplest form, it’s good to know what ‘HVAC’ even stands for (hint: Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning System). Beyond the basics of an HVAC system, it’s good to know the components and parts that are important to keeping your comfortable in your home. More importantly, knowing the components of your system will also help with maintenance, repairs and potential replacements.
What's A 'Heat Pump'?
One of those need-to know components just so happens to be the 'heat pump'. What is it exactly? According to Trane.com, the heat pump is a mechanical-compression cycle refrigeration system that can be reversed to heat or cool a space. Think of it as a heat mover shuttling warm air from one place to another depending on the season (meaning it can help cool or warm a space). A heat pump also includes two main parts; an indoor air handler and an outdoor unit similar to an air-conditioner. The outdoor unit has a compressor circulating refrigerant that absorbs and releases heat as it travels between indoor and outdoor spaces.
*Full explanation of heat pumps can be found here.
As the weather outside gets cooler a heat pump will help take whatever outside heat is near and transfer it inside your home. The same notion applies in the summer as well. The heat pump will help reverse heat intake from inside your home and take it outside (usually through an exhaust vent).
Air Conditioner or Heat Pump?
As mentioned earlier, a heat pump works similarly to an air conditioner but it's not quite the same. Their similarities include both using the same technology to cool your home and share energy-saving features. They also both cool your home in the same way with littler to no difference in energy efficiency costs. However, the main difference between the two is a heat pump also has the ability to heat your home; while an AC unit can only cool it. An AC needs a furnace pairing to perform its duties of central heating and cooling inside the home.
Do I Need a Heat Pump?
It's important to understand heat pumps are best for mild/moderate climates. To use one in colder temperatures a supplemental heating source may be needed. Trane.com suggests getting a heat pump if you lie in an area where temperatures barely dip below freezing (so places like the South or Southwest). While you can use a heat pump in colder places (like up North) you will most likely need a secondary heating source like a furnace to help with consistent warm air flow inside your home.
Heat Pump Temp Ranges:
*For a full list of heat pump ranges and operational costs click here
Heat pumps have similar costs to air conditioning units in the summer time but can be much more inexpensive than furnaces during the cooler months. it's also important to know the average lifespan of a heat pump, which can range anywhere from 15-20 years (Trane.com suggested length).
Rule of thumb:
When considering investing in a new system the age of your current heater pump should be around the 10yr mark. Noted, the newer machines are almost always more efficient and come with a fresh warranty.
To get a full understanding of heat pumps and whether or not one is the right fit where you live, consult an HVAC advocate here. Where we can recommend one for your home or suggest other options to optimize your existing HVAC system.