Heat pumps are a viable alternative to air conditioning units, with a more efficient cycle and the potential ability to save a great deal of money on heating and cooling costs. A heat pump can function in both the summer and the winter, with capacity to both heat and cool your home. The technology operates by transferring heat between inside and outside of your home: similar in principle to an air conditioning unit, but with a few key difference. The specific way heat pumps use energy depends on the type of heat pump.

Air-source heat pumps use a certain amount of electricity, but because they’re drawing the heat form the air instead of relying on heating the air with electric coils, they use far less than a more conventional heater. That translates to substantial savings on your monthly energy bills, though it doesn’t perform as well when temperatures drop below 30 degrees or so.

So how does a heat pump absorb heat from the air?

The most common type of heat pump is referred to as an air source heat pump, which consists of a linked indoor and outdoor unit. In the summertime, pressurized refrigerant enters an evaporator coil in the indoor part of the unit. As it evaporates, it pulls heat from the surrounding air and becomes a gas. A blower fan then blows the now-cool air surrounding the coil into your home.

The refrigerant gas then moves to the outdoor unit, where it enters a compressor that subjects it to an intense amount of pressure. The pressurized gas then moves to another set of coils which cool the gas into a liquid form and releases the heat outside. The pressurized liquid can then return to the indoor part of the unit and start the cycle again. In the winter, this process is reversed. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the outside air, then moves into the indoor unit and releases it.

Other types of heat pumps include absorption heat pumps, which are similar to air-source pumps but are driven by gas, solar power or geothermal power (instead of electricity like the air-source heat pump uses); and geothermal heat pumps which make use of local ground temperatures to achieve the same results.

As with any complex piece of equipment, they require regular maintenance and upkeep to function as they should. In the Avon, OH area, talk to Pompeii’s Plumbing & Heating to get top-notch service on your heat pump, or to have a new heat pump installed in your home.