Heat Pump 101

When most people think about their air conditioning, the word “heat pump” does not immediately come to mind. However, heat pumps can be used to both heat and cool and are often a part of both heating and cooling systems.

So what exactly is a heat pump? A heat pump is a device that has the ability to move hot air from one location to a different location. Heat pumps are used in many heating systems to pull the heat from the ground or out of the air, which is then used to heat a room. However, this process can also be reversed, in which case a heat pump pulls the heat out of a room and moves it elsewhere, effectively cooling that room.

How does it work? Heat pumps work off the principle that heat naturally moves from areas of higher temperature to areas of lower temperature. A heat pump is designed to alter that system, taking the heat from lower temperature areas (such as the outdoor air or the ground – known as a heat “source”) and moving it into a higher temperature area (such as the inside of your home – known as the heat “sink”).

The most common type of heat pump is an air-air heat pump. An air-air pump is set up to take hot air from the outside of the home and send it to your home’s indoor air ducts. This air is then sent throughout the home, heating up the different rooms.

This all makes perfect sense as far as heating a home. So how does a heat pump work with our air conditioning in order to cool your home? In order to work with your cooling system, a heat pump needs a reversing valve. When switched, the reversing valve reverses the flow of air. This means that instead of pumping hot air into your home, the heat pump works to take the hot air inside of your home and pump it to the outside.

Heat pumps are a smart way to cool a room because they are more energy efficient. Because a heat pump is used to transfer heat, less fuel is needed in order to cool down the air. Heat pumps work best in climates that are more moderate and when used properly can help bring down the cost of your energy bill.

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