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Friday, June 27, 2014

They may have been around for a while, but heat pumps are still unfamiliar to many homeowners. Somehow, this compact unit is supposed to both heat and cool your house, providing for all your climate control needs all year long.

How's that possible?

The reality is your heat pump cools your home exactly as an air conditioner does. Read on to learn more.

The Cooling Cycle

Like air conditioners, heat pumps depend on the basic cooling cycle that Willis Carrier invented in 1902. When liquid matter evaporates and becomes a gas, it absorbs heat; when a gas condenses and becomes liquid again, it releases heat. Repeat those phase changes enough times, and you can transfer heat from one place to another.

Air conditioners use special refrigerant chemicals, which can exist in either liquid or gaseous form at room temperature. At the evaporator coil, liquid refrigerant absorbs heat and becomes a gas. The system then pumps that refrigerant to the condenser coil, where a special pump called a compressor applies pressure and forces the refrigerant vapor to become liquid. In the process, heat is transferred outside the home, cooling the house and everyone inside.

Dual-Use Technology

Now, just imagine a standard air conditioner that's flipped around, with the evaporator coil outside the house and the condenser inside. Such a system would absorb heat from the outside air and blow it into the home, effectively warming things up. That's essentially how a heat pump works.

A heat pump is a multi-purpose system that can run that same cooling cycle and either direction. When the home is warmer than the thermostat setting, the heat pump functions as an air conditioner, absorbing heat inside the house and pumping it outside. When the temperature dips below the thermostat setting, the cycle reverses, collecting heat from the outdoor air and using it to heat the home. That means a heat pump can provide energy efficient cooling and heating all year long.

Depending on your home's heating and cooling needs, a heat pump may be the right comfort solution for your family. If you're looking to upgrade to a heat pump or need maintenance for your existing system, our HVAC contractors can help. We'll make it easy for you to connect with a great HVAC company in your area who can take care of all your climate control needs.

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