How Do Heat Pumps Work?

Heat pumps are a popular way to heat and cool your home all year long, combining both heating and cooling functions into one system that’s easy to install and maintain. They’re also a powerful way to save on energy costs and help reduce the impact of global warming.

How Do They Work?

Heat pump systems use electricity to move heat from outside your home into the indoor air. They can also be used for space cooling, depending on the unit’s design and size.

They’re usually installed as part of a central HVAC system that includes a furnace and air conditioner, or they can be smallerĀ Heat Pump called ductless mini-splits that are placed throughout your home.

Whether you choose to install a whole-house or ductless mini-split system, make sure it’s the right size for your home. That means finding out how many BTUs your home needs for comfort.

It’s best to consult with a professional before making any decisions, as they can provide recommendations on the perfect size for your space.

Keep in mind that a larger, more powerful heat pump will have a larger, more expensive footprint. This is especially true if you choose to install the system in an attic or another unfinished area of your home.

The cost to operate a heat pump will vary based on the type of unit you’re using and how much electricity it consumes. Typically, they’re more affordable than electric resistance heaters and can be more efficient than gas furnaces.

They are a great choice for most climates, but they’re not ideal in colder places where outdoor temperatures tend to drop near freezing on a regular basis. That’s because they need to move heat from a colder area into a warmer one, which takes more energy than moving heat between areas with moderate temperature differences.

In addition, the primary refrigerant used in most heat pumps is hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, that can have a significant global warming effect if they’re released into the atmosphere. Fortunately, new technologies are being developed that can replace these chemicals with less potent refrigerants and lower the global warming impact of heat pump usage.

It’s important to have your heat pump checked out by a professional at least once or twice a year. They can check for leaks or damaged parts, and ensure the compressor, fans and coils are working as they should.

They also can check for problems like clogged filters, blocked airflow and condenser coils that need to be cleaned. That’s a good idea if you’re planning to sell your home soon, as it may increase the value of your home.

The government also offers economic incentives to purchase and install efficient heat pumps, says Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Those credits, which can be up to $2000, are available through last year’s federal climate legislation.

These types of systems can be installed by DIY-ers, or if you’re not comfortable with the process, call in a licensed HVAC technician for the job. A reputable contractor will offer a free estimate and can help you make the best choice for your home.