The chilly winter aside, the typical climate here in the Greenville area is ideal for heat pumps whether you want to heat or cool your home. If you’re building a new house or you’re faced with replacing the furnace and air conditioner in your present home, ask your HVAC contractor about the advantages of installing a heat pump system for heating and cooling.
How Do Heat Pumps Work?
A heat pump operates the same way your refrigerator does: by absorbing heat from a cool space and exhausting it to a warmer space. In cold weather, heat pumps move heat from the air outside and transfer it indoors. In hot weather, the system reverses, using the same equipment to move heat from the indoors to the outdoors.
Heat pumps do not generate their own heat by burning fossil fuels or using electric resistance coils like a standard furnace does. Instead, they use a relatively small amount of electricity to run a pump, compressor and fans to move the existing heat from one space to another. Like refrigerators or air conditioners, heat pumps circulate a refrigerant through condenser and evaporator coils where the heat is transferred from or absorbed by the surrounding air.
Heat pumps: Ideal for Moderate Climates
In moderate climates, heat pumps are more energy efficient than standard furnaces since they move heat rather than generating it. They operate best when the outdoor temperature is above 30 degrees or so. As the outdoor temperature approaches and drops below freezing, a heat pump loses its effectiveness because the air holds less heat at low temperatures. The equipment has to work harder to transfer enough heat to keep the inside of the building warm.
Many heat pumps include a backup heating source, such as electric resistance coils or a small furnace, that kicks on at temperatures near or below freezing. The backup heater keeps the house comfortable, but it’s also more expensive to operate than the heat pump is in more moderate temperatures.
Heat pumps are well-suited to the Greenville area since our winters are relatively warm and the backup heat is needed only on the few nights when it is really cold outside.
In cooling mode, heat pumps work just like an air conditioner and offer energy efficiencies equal to the best modern A/C equipment.
Advantages of a Heat Pump System
Using a heat pump for heating and cooling your home offers several advantages over a typical HVAC system that uses a furnace and an air conditioner:
- Lower operating cost. The increased energy efficiency of a heat pump means that you pay less per month to heat your home than you would with a standard furnace or boiler.
- Lower upfront cost. A heat pump provides heating and cooling for your home at a lower upfront equipment cost than an HVAC system that features a furnace and an air conditioner.
- Smaller space requirements. Since heat pumps heat and cool using the same equipment, they require less space for equipment than a furnace and air conditioner. Unless they have fuel-burning backup systems, heat pumps don’t generate combustion products that have to be vented safely to the outdoors like a natural gas or oil-burning furnace or boiler does.
- Multiple equipment options. Heat pumps are easy to install using existing ductwork. If your home doesn’t have a central air conditioning and heating system you can get mini-split heat pumps that don’t require ducts.
Most heat pumps are air-source systems, which means they extract heat from the outdoor air. Geothermal, or ground-source, heat pumps are another option. They extract heat from below the ground at a depth where the temperature stays far above freezing all winter. A geothermal heat pump is more expensive to install than an air-source system, but it will pay off its extra cost over time via lower electric bills.
Learn more about J & J Mechanical, Inc.’s heat pump options or contact us today at (855) 800-1341 to talk to an HVAC professional about other home comfort concerns.