Since ECOPAN builds energy-efficient houses, we also recommend energy-efficient engineering solutions, in particular heating systems. Today we will talk about perhaps the most mysterious of them all – the heat pump. It is not a furnace, but it can warm your house. And it’s not an air conditioner, but it can cool your home. “How is that possible? Is it profitable? Is it effective at all temperatures?” – you ask. Let’s figure it out together.
A heat pump is a versatile heating and cooling device that is designed to provide comfort in your home year-round. All heat pumps differ from each other by the source of heat energy. Each pump is labeled: air-to-air, air-to-water, and so on. The first word indicates the source of heat, the second – what heat is converted into.
Part 1. The air-to-air heat pumps.
It consists of two main components: an indoor air conditioner and an outdoor heat pump, which is similar to a central air conditioner. Inside the pump is a compressor that absorbs and then releases heat. In the summer, the heat pump works much like a central air conditioner, absorbing heat inside your home and expelling it outdoors. In winter, the process is reversed and the pump absorbs heat from the outside air and delivers it indoors to heat your home.
The best part is that a heat pump can extract heat even from cold air. It is this ability to absorb heat from the air, even cold air, that makes heat pumps reliable and much more energy-efficient than single-source systems that only produce cold or warm air. A heat pump does not generate heat from scratch. Instead, it simply transfers heat from one place to another. It requires very little energy at all.
“If heat pumps are so great, why aren’t they used everywhere?” – you’ll deservedly wonder. Heat pumps are ideal for regions with temperate climates but are less effective in areas with long, cold winters. Generally, heat pumps are effective at temperatures up to 30 degrees or so. At lower temperatures, the pump will struggle to draw heat, resulting in a much less efficient operation.
However, this does not mean that a heat pump is not viable in cold climates at all. In regions with cold weather that require a lot of heat, a heat pump can be paired with a gas furnace. When the weather gets cool, the heat pump produces heat and uses the furnace to blow warm air throughout the house. In very cold weather, when the heat pump fails, it automatically shuts down and the furnace does all the heating.
In regions with hot climates, the heat pump can be paired with a recuperation system. In this case, the pump heats or cools the air, and the recovery system spreads it throughout the house.
For many people, a heat pump can be a good way to save on heating and cooling costs. If you’re not sure if it’s right for your home, contact us, we’ll be happy to advise you.
In the next article, we will talk about ground source heat pumps and their features.