When you’re in the market for a new heating and/or cooling solution for your home it can be easy to be overwhelmed. There are many modern choices available that can be suitable for improving indoor comfort in a wide variety of ways. One of the most popular choices in recent years has been the heat pump; it’s a flexible option that can deliver efficient heating and cooling for your home. Although it functions in some ways like a traditional air conditioning system, a heat pump is different in a few key ways. Let’s take a closer look at how a heat pump works and give you enough information to make an informed purchase.

Some Heat Pump Basics:A Brief Primer for Understanding How a Heat Pump Works

The name heat pump suggests that the system moves heat by pumping it through the home. This is correct, but the name can be a little misleading as the system can also be used to cool the home as well. This is achieved, by reversing the operation of the heat pump as required. During the winter, the heat is gathered from the air outside and pumped into the home. During the cooling season, the heat is removed from the air inside the home and then moved outdoors. This flexibility is a key reason why the heat pump system is so attractive for many homeowners that want an easy way to heat and cool their homes.

The Air Temperature Differences:

When you’re in your home in summer without any treated cool air, it’s easy to feel that the air has heat in it. So, it doesn’t seem far fetched that a heat pump could move that heat outside just like a standard air conditioner. Most people find the inverse operation much harder to understand; how can a heat pump heat up the home using cold air from outside? When you stand outdoors in winter, it may be hard to believe, but there is always some heat present in the air. The temperature needs to drop a long way into the negative range before there is no heat found in air. The heat pump system is designed to locate the heat that’s present in the air outdoors and then use that heat to warm up your home.

A Complete Home Comfort System:

Almost all heat pumps, work on the principles outlined above, but when used in isolation they cannot be used to keep your home in the desired comfort range. The heat pump is usually paired with an air handler; this is used to circulate the treated air throughout your home. There are some heat pumps that can supplement the heat that’s pulled from the air outdoors, by adding additional heat as that air passes through the system. These heat pumps are a great option for those homes located in cooler areas, but they do need more energy to generate that additional heat. This makes them less energy efficient than the more standard models that purely generate heat from the air alone.