Heat pumps are a type of home heating system that uses a low amount of energy to move heat from a “heat source” like the ground or air and into a “heat sink” like your home. Heat pumps are typically used to heat your home in the winter, but they can be reversed to perform double duty and act as your home’s air conditioner, as well.
Contrary to popular belief, heat pumps can be a highly effective and energy efficient method of temperature management in all climates. When it comes to energy efficiency, you can’t beat heat pumps. Unlike other combustion based heating systems, heat pumps simply transfer heat rather than burn fuel to create it
One of the biggest advantages of heat pumps over standard heating ventilating and cooling systems is that there’s no need to install separate systems to heat and cool your home. This means that heat pumps can be added on to your existing heating or cooling system to create a ‘hybrid system’ that enhances your energy efficiency by enabling to switching your home’s fuel source back and forth between gas and electric depending on the need.
Air source heat pumps are the most common type. This device takes heat in the air outside your home and pumps it through refrigerant filled coils, much like the ones on the back of your fridge. The heat pump itself consists of two fans, a heat exchanger, a compressor and a reversing valve. This reversing valve is key to the device’s versatility. Basically, the pump to absorbs heat from your home or office and pushes it through the device to the outdoor side of the unit where the warm air is released. The pump will continue this process until the interior of the building is comfortable and warm.
Although air source heat pumps are by far the most common, ground source heat pumps can also be very potent in the right environment. Ground source heat pumps absorb heat from the ground itself or from an underground body of water. The pump absorbs heat directly from the ground via a system of buried pipes usually filled with water.
Depending on how the heat pump is packaged, different models will work better for different building types. For instance, many commercial buildings install a heat pump packaged in a single casing on the roof with the ductwork entering the building through the wall. On the other hand, home heat pumps are usually most effective in a split system with an outdoor and an indoor component installed through the wall.