The HVAC experts at Richmond’s Air discuss the ins-and-outs of heat pumps
Do you have a heat pump but aren’t sure exactly how it works?
Are you in need of a new central air or heat system and are curious if a heat pump will work in the Houston area?
There’s quite a bit to cover, so let’s dive straight into it. Below we talk about exactly what a heat pump does, its advantages and its drawbacks.
Heat Pumps: Heating and Cooling
The term “heat pump” isn’t really the best descriptor for this versatile piece of HVAC equipment, especially since a heat pump performs double duty as both an air conditioner and a heat source. A more accurate name for a heat pump might be an “air transfer pump,” since a heat pump works by transferring hot air out of the home in the cooling season and, in the heating season, transferring heat from the outside environment into the home.
It may sound strange, but the fact is that heat is always present in the outside air, even if the temperature is low. A heat pump’s outside compressor pulls outdoor air into it, uses a pressurized refrigerant system to collect the heat, and circulates this heat energy into your home. In the summer, the system reverses and works just like a regular central air system. (Another name for a heat pump might be a “reversible air conditioner.”)
Heat Pumps: Pros and Cons
What makes a heat pump different from a furnace is that it doesn’t combust. Instead of generating heat with fuel, a heat pump simply transfers heat, which makes it a more energy efficient source of warmth. In fact, the Department of Energy estimates that you can save 30 to 40 percent on heating costs over heating with electric heat. The DOE also notes that heat pumps are very efficient air conditioners and do a better job of dehumidifying than a typical air conditioner. Overall, a heat pump can provide equivalent space conditioning at as low as 1/4th the cost of traditional HVAC equipment.
Heat pumps are considered to be a more even source of heat than a furnace, which generates very hot air and circulates it through your home. Heat pump temperatures are different than the high temperatures achieved by a furnace, but they keep a more constant, warm temperature.
While it’s not too important in the Houston area, most heat pumps include a backup heat source, either electric or natural gas, for when temperatures get too low for the heat pump to continue effectively heating. Most modern heat pumps, however, can efficiently heat a home even when the outdoor air is below zero. To determine what type of heat pump will best serve your needs, you’ll need to talk to your local HVAC expert. Your contractor will perform a professional load calculation to ensure that you purchase a heat pump to meet your heating and cooling needs.
Overall, heat pumps can be a great central heating system that can both efficiently cool and heat your Houston, Katy or Spring area home. If you’re interested in learning more, contact Richmond’s Air today.
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