A heat pump system can be an economical way to heat and cool your home within the right climate zones. If you use electricity to heat your home and you live in a fairly moderate climate, a heat pump system that functions like a reverse air conditioning unit may be the best way to heat your home. It has proven to be very cost efficient and the technology that drives these HVAC systems continues to improve.
How it Works
The basic principle behind the operation of heat pump system can be explained by looking at a window air conditioning unit. A window air conditioner has two sets of copper coils. One set of these coils concentrates cold and the other hot. The cold coils are located on the interior portion of the air conditioner and air is forced over them as it is blown into the room.
As the air passes over those coils, it is cooled. The hot coils, which are actually extracting the heat from the cold ones, are located on the exterior portion of the air conditioner and are ventilated outside. A heat pump system works exactly the opposite. Since warm air does not naturally flow to cold, the heat must be moved by force, thus the “pump” aspect of a heat pump.
Most of the heat pump systems that are produced today are engineered with a switch that turns opens and closes a valve on the pump that moves the heat. When this switch is engaged, the unit is functioning as a heating unit. When this switch is not engaged, the there is no heat movement and the unit functions as a traditional air conditioner would.
This feature allows the homeowner to utilize heating and cooling capabilities from one centralized HVAC unit. This one obvious factor contributes a great deal to the heat pump’s economic value to the homeowner.
The biggest drawback to a heat pump system is that, when in heating mode, the coils that are outside can collect ice. When ice builds up on the coils, the unit must switch back to air conditioning mode for a brief time while the coils defrost. There is a valve that prevents the cold air that is being produced from being pumped into the house, but many homeowners report that they still feel a bit of a chill during this process.
When you are considering the best way to heat and cool your home with an electric system, you will definitely want to weigh the merits of a heat pump system. Though it is not right in every situation, the product continues to improve, and the economic value of having two systems in one cannot be disputed. Before you make your final HVAC decision, take the time to look into a heat pump.