What Is a Heat Pump?

air source heat pump illustration.

What if you could just move heat to where you wanted it most? Actually, you can. Essentially, that’s what a heat pump does. 

A heat pump is a single heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit that heats your Austin home in the winter and cools it in the summer. Our professionals at AiRCO Heating and Cooling can provide you with the details on the current makes and models of heat pumps available, whether they would be a good fit for your home, and pricing and installation information.

Technically, three kinds of heat pumps exist. One transfers heat from the earth to the air, a second moves heat from water to air, and a third is an air-to-air system. The latter is the most common and typically the kind of heat pump that most homeowners will be considering when they are looking at heat pump systems for their homes. 

How a Heat Pump Works

During warm weather, a heat pump works just like a traditional air conditioner. Both systems apply a compressed refrigerant in order to grab heat from your house, move it through an air handler, and blow it outside. 

Many people think air conditioning systems actually cool the air; in fact, they take the heat out of the air, which results in a cooler environment. When a heat pump is set to cooling mode, it works similarly to a traditional air conditioning system.

In the winter, you can set the heat pump to operate in reverse. Even if the weather is cold outside, there is still heat energy in the air. By pumping the heat from outside into your Texas home, you can effectively increase your indoor temperature. Heat pumps are more environmentally friendly than conventional furnaces, because they simply relocate the heat instead of burning fossil fuel to generate warmth.

Advantages of a Heat Pump

Heat pumps are very efficient at moving heat from inside to outside or vice versa, especially in moderate temperatures. Typically, you can heat or cool a home relatively quickly using a heat pump system, and it has the ability to deliver both heating and cooling with a single unit. This saves you from buying multiple units for heating and cooling your home. In addition, you don’t have to burn fuels to generate heat in the winter.

According to the US Department of Energy (DoE), today’s heat pumps may decrease your electricity bill by half when compared with some furnaces or baseboard heating. 

Because heat pumps transfer heat, many homeowners have found they experience more consistent heating with fewer cold and hot spots when compared with conventional furnaces.

Disadvantages of a Heat Pump

In climates where the temperature can be colder for more sustained amounts of time, heat pumps are not as efficient. Although there is still heat energy even in the winter, the heat pump must work harder to transfer the little amount of heat outside on a cold day into the house.

Heat pumps can be more expensive to install and maintain, and depending on the climate, those costs may not be completely offset by energy savings. Although technology continues to improve, and some newer heat pump models work better in colder climates, some homeowners may need supplemental heating from a conventional system as well.

Installing a dual-fuel option may be one solution, which allows a heat pump to work alongside a gas furnace. Whichever system is more energy efficient will take over the heating load in this type of system.

Call Us for Your Heat Pump Needs

Our AiRCO team here in Austin, TX, can provide additional information about heat pumps and how they can be an excellent heating and cooling solution for you. Our professionals are also here if you are in need of a heat pump repair, replacement, or maintenance. Call us at 512.537.1234 or request service online today.

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