Saturday, April 13, 2024

All That You Need to Know About Heat Pumps


There are a few different appliances and systems within your home that work to make it as comfortable as possible. Depending on your situation, there are more than a few of these that you may find to be potential options.

For the most part, traditional HVAC systems are the preferable choice. But there is an alternative that more and more people are using. A heat pump is basically the same as the aforementioned HVAC system in that it works to heat and cool your home.

But a heat pump is different from that HVAC system in one important way. A heat pump taps into the existing energy sources to provide cooling and heating, all while consuming far less energy than traditional HVAC systems.

Here is everything you need to know about a heat pump and how it stacks up against traditional HVAC systems.

Heat Pumps Are Highly Efficient

Perhaps the biggest thing that heat pumps have going in their favour is that they are incredibly efficient. It is one of the single most appealing aspects of having a heat pump installed in place of a traditional HVAC system.

Traditional HVAC systems use so much energy because they are responsible for generating their own heat. On the other hand, a heat pump will extract, concentrate, and move latent heat energy. It kind of goes without saying how less energy consumption is a good thing.

They are using renewable, constant energy sources that exist already, so the heat pump can consume nearly 50% less electricity than those traditional heating sources. Over time, that can add up to substantial savings on heating and cooling or electric bills.

With society in general making a shift to becoming more energy efficient, getting a heat pump can be a great way to join the movement. The monthly savings on utility bills likely won’t hurt the effort, either.

Heating and Cooling

The name can be somewhat confusing. Most people assume that heat pumps only work in a heating capacity. That said, they are misinterpreted because heat pumps can be used all throughout the year to keep a comfortable climate in your home.

Heat pumps are able to cool as well. Given their efficiency, they do so at a much lower cost than a traditional air conditioner. But more and more homeowners are seeing the benefit of moving away from a traditional HVAC and into a heat pump.

The main difference between a heat pump and a traditional HVAC system is the method in which they heat and cool. Heat pumps, for example, can provide heating by extracting and concentrating heat created externally from the heat pump. That might be warmth in the air or sunlight outside of the home. The heat pump then takes that external source of heat, turning it around and using it to heat your home.

When the weather is warmer, heat pumps can be reversed. Instead of extracting and concentrating that heat to be redistributed into your home, it extracts the warm air in the home and distributes it outside where it will eventually dissipate. It is a great way to reduce the potential heat from natural lighting and to keep the home as cool as possible.

Moderate Climates

Perhaps the biggest issue with heat pumps, when compared to a traditional HVAC unit, is the climate. Traditional heating and cooling has to create its own source of that heat and cool air, so it can operate fine no matter the climate.

But with heat pumps, they work by extracting and concentrating the surrounding air. Unlike a traditional HVAC system, heat pumps tend to be far more gradual than their instant counterparts. Simply put, it takes time to extract and concentrate the necessary levels of warmth in the air.

This can make heat pumps a less than ideal setup in areas that deal with climate extremes. If you live in places that are either very hot or very cold, a heat pump may not be able to deliver the necessary air flow when it is needed most. When the temperatures are at their highs (or lows), it can take the heat pump an extra long time to get moving.

Being in a temperate climate means enjoying more comfortable settings both indoors and out. It also means getting low-cost energy that can be hugely beneficial over the life of the heat pump.

Heat Pumps Come in Three Forms

There is another thing that you may not have realised about heat pumps in general: there are three different kinds. They come in air-source, water-source, and ground-source. As you may have guessed from their names, these distinctions allow for easy identification as to which system the heat pump is extracting and dissipating heat from.

The names are pretty self-explanatory as well. Water-source heat pumps make use of a body of water to dissipate or extract heat. It is generally a local body of water, so you may be locationally challenged when looking for a water-source heat pump.

The most common is the air-source heat pump. That is because it heats the home using ambient air and then dissipates that heat into the air outside to initiate cooling in the home. Whereas the former type of heat pump may be a bit more difficult to pull off without a local source of water, the open-air can be used just about anywhere.

Finally, there is the ground-source heat pump. These also go by the name of geothermal systems. As you may have guessed, it uses the ground as a medium instead of the air or water. These are not quite as common as air-source heat pumps but can be just as viable and a little easier to install and get quality use out of than the water-source heat pumps.

They Are Quite Flexible

Time and technology have resulted in major developments and advancements to heat pumps in recent years. That means getting a far greater level of customisation and flexibility when it comes to the general use of heat pumps in the home.

Did you know that most modern heat pumps can be installed with two-stage compressors? If you don’t know what that is, a two-stage compressor lets them run on a far more frequent basis. Not only that, heat pumps with two-stage compressors tend to run at a far more accurate temperature. That means less overall energy usage, which saves you money and saves wear and tear on the heat pump. It is as win-win as it gets.

Of course, you can also get heat pumps that have multiple blower motor types. If you want to go with a fixed-speed blower, just keep in mind that it will stay at one constant speed and does not have room for adjustment.

Multi-speed blowers, meanwhile, have a customisation aspect to them. These blowers will try to adjust the amount of air that is circulating through the room to create as comfortable a temperature as is possible.

Finally, there is the variable-speed blower motor. For those who like to have fine-scale adjustment capabilities on the conditions within the home, the variable-speed blower motor will definitely be the better choice.

More “Green”

Another important thing to consider in this day and age is environmental friendliness. Traditional air conditioners and heaters can be quite unfriendly to the environment depending on a number of different factors, most important of which includes the toxic chemicals within.

But heat pumps make use of very little of the aforementioned toxic chemicals. On top of that, they also release nearly no gas back into the atmosphere. For those two reasons alone, heat pumps are considered to be far more eco-friendly than their counterparts.

That’s not even factoring in fuel costs. Traditional heaters run on combustible fuels, although some modern units are moving away from that. Those that do run on combustible fuels will ultimately distribute toxins into the air, chipping away at air quality. Heat pumps run off of electricity, which means no dependency on those fuels.

Wallet-Friendly…Kind of

Owning a heat pump has the potential for savings over time due to the energy efficiency of the units. Remember that heat pumps don’t run on expensive fuel, using electricity to power the unit instead. Over time, that low-cost operation can add up when it comes to monthly energy bills.

On the other hand, there is a reason why people tend to choose traditional HVAC systems. Heat pumps can be much more expensive to install than their counterparts because of their energy efficiency and the fact that they don’t run on fuel.

Depending on who you can get to perform the installation, the costs may be offset over time due to lower energy use. Still, even with the elevated costs, a heat pump may be the way to go depending on where you live. When in doubt, consult a local HVAC expert to see if a heat pump is the best option.