Installing a heat pump is among the best ways to save money and energy on your utility bills as a homeowner. That’s because heat pumps are twice more efficient as traditional air conditioners and furnaces. They are powered by electricity and transfer heat using a refrigerant to ensure your comfort all year round. Besides, they do not burn fossil like furnaces do, making them sustainable and environmentally friendly. Let’s dig deeper into how a heat pump works.
Heat Pump Basics
Despite the name, a heat pump doesn’t generate heat. Instead, it moves heat from one place to another. It absorbs heat energy from the outside air and transfers it to indoor air. On the other hand, a furnace creates heat that is distributed inside a home.
An air conditioner and a heat pump are functionally similar when in cooling mode. Both absorb heat from the indoor unit before releasing it through the outdoor unit. Therefore, homeowners must consider the local climate and home size when considering the best heat pump for their home. We can help you by evaluating your specific needs before proposing the right option.
Where Do Heat Pumps Work Best?
It all starts with the right climate. Heat pumps are ideal for milder climates, as they work best when temperatures remain between 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit. In cold weather, heat pumps struggle to transfer heat from outside, making them less economical and efficient.
Some homeowners combine them with furnaces for energy-efficient heating on all but the coldest days. In such cases, furnaces take over when outside temperatures drop too low for the heat pump to operate effectively. This kind of system is a dual-fuel system, which is cost-effective and energy efficient.
How Do Heat Pumps Extract Heat?
Heat pumps extract heat energy from the outdoor air and use it to warm up indoor spaces. When temperatures are too cold outdoors, they can draw heat from the ground or water sources like ponds and streams. In this case, homeowners install the geothermal system into the ground to absorb and transfer heat energy.
Important Components of a Heat Pump System
A typical air source heat pump has an indoor and outdoor air handler unit. Both units have various subsections with different functions.
1. Indoor Unit
The indoor unit has a coil and blower. The coil acts as a condenser in heating mode and an evaporator in cooling mode. On the other hand, the blower moves air across the coil and throughout the ducts, moving warm air into your home. During the summer, this unit works in reverse to expel hot air from inside your residence. This helps maintain a comfortable temperature during hot months.
2. Outdoor Unit
The outdoor unit contains a condenser coil and compressor that extract heat from the outside air and transfer it indoors. In summer, the process is reversed to move hot air outdoors. Similar to the indoor unit, it also houses fans that blow heated or cooled air through your vents.
The compressor is the heart of a heat pump. It pumps the refrigerant through the system, helping it absorb and expel heat energy. The electric motor inside the compressor helps regulate temperatures, ensuring your home remains cool in summer and warm in winter.
A refrigerant is a liquid solution that absorbs and transfers heat energy. It works like a medium between the indoor and outdoor units as it absorbs warm air in winter and hot air in summer. Once heated or cooled, it circulates through your home’s ductwork providing comfort year-round.
5. Expansion Valve
This acts like a gatekeeper, controlling how much refrigerant flows through the system at any given time.
6. Reverse Valve
This is part of the heat pump system that allows the refrigerant to move backward and forward. It helps push warm air outdoors during summer and transfer hot air indoors during winter.
How Does a Ground-Source Heat Pump Work?
Ground-source heat pumps harness underground heat rather than burning fuel to generate heat. The system includes a series of underground loops, usually using pipes filled with water or antifreeze solution. These loops are connected to an indoor unit containing a compressor and refrigerant.
These types of heat pumps are a great option for homeowners who want a reliable and efficient heating and cooling system with minimal environmental impact. With proper maintenance, they can provide comfortable temperatures year-round while helping you save money on energy bills.
How Does a Water Source Heat Pump Work?
This system works by efficiently moving heat from a water source to your household, especially if the water temperature is between 41 and 46 degrees. Their efficiency is attributed to the fact that they take one kilowatt of electricity and two kilowatts of free heat to produce three kilowatts of heat. This occurs with the heat going up the flue pipe, which is why the running costs of heat pumps are low.
These liquid-pumping pipes can either be open-loop or closed-loop systems. In an open-looped system, water gets pumped out of the underground water source. On the other hand, in a closed-loop system, the water or system refrigerator circulates through pipes repeatedly. From there, the system extracts heat from the water before returning it to the surface lake or well. It then pumps more water from the well to extract more heat in a continuous open loop.
How Does a Hybrid Heat Pump Work?
A hybrid heat pump combines the efficiency of a ground-source heat pump with the convenience of an air-source heat pump. This system uses both sources to generate warmth for your home, depending on which is best suited for the current weather conditions. In warm months, it harnesses energy from the air and expels hot air out of your home. During cold weather, it draws energy from underground and transfers it indoors.
Can You Use Heat Pumps as Air Conditioners?
Yes. The components inside are reversible, allowing it to provide year-round climate control indoors. This is especially true in mild climates and well-insulated spaces. However, a traditional air conditioning system may be more suitable for your needs if you live in an area with extreme temperatures or high humidity levels.
How Do You Reset Your Heat Pump?
A reset is necessary if the pump isn’t functioning correctly. You must turn the pump and thermostat off first and wait at least five minutes before turning them back on. You can clean out the ducts or filters while you wait before turning the system back on in reverse order.
The Need for Regular Maintenance to Function Properly
Dirty components like fans, filters, and coils can alter the air quality of your home. Therefore, maintaining a clean heat pump ensures all parts are running correctly. Regular maintenance includes checking the refrigerant levels, cleaning, and lubricating components, and inspecting wiring connections. It prevents costly breakdowns and repairs. In addition, allow HVAC experts to service your system every few years to keep it in good working order.
Trusted Service Right at Home
The heating and air conditioning experts at Jerry Kelly Heating & Air Conditioning are committed to providing optimal services using state-of-the-art technology. Our experts have in-depth training to give you the latest home comfort solutions. We guarantee expert heating and cooling installations, precision repairs, and regular maintenance in St. Peters, MO. We also work with indoor air quality and water heaters. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.