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How Do Heat Pumps Work?

heat-pump-heaterMost of us are accustomed to heating units and air conditioning units being two separate appliances: often linked by a shared duct system, but doing their jobs much differently and requiring entirely different types of systems to handle those jobs. Heat pumps offer a viable alternative to this model by performing both heating and air conditioning duties in a single unit. They work particularly well in our neck of the woods, where winters are milder than they might be further north. If you’re looking at replacing your HVAC system this fall, consider the benefits of a heat pump and whether one might make a good fit for your home. A heat pump performs the functions of both a heater and an air conditioner in one.

Air Conditioning with a Twist

The basics of heat pumps differ little from those of air conditioners, and when a heat wave hits, they function in more or less the same manner. Refrigerant first shifts from a gaseous to a liquid form: releasing heat through the outdoor portion of the unit. The liquid then moves into a series of expansion coils, where it shifts back to gaseous form and pulls heat from the nearby air in the process. The cooled air can then be blown into your home through the ducts with a fan.

The only difference in the way a heat pump functions is the process can essentially be “reversed”: the refrigerant can revert to gaseous form in the outdoor part of the unit and release heat into the air in the indoor part of the unit. That allows it to function as both a heater and an air conditioner in a single unit.

The Benefits

The benefits of heat pump technology mostly pay dividends in the winter, when heat is required instead of cool air. During the summer, heat pumps are effective AC units, but essentially no different from dedicated air conditioners. During the winter, however, it holds a big edge over other kinds of heating system. Unlike gas or other forms of fuel, refrigerant isn’t consumed during the heating and cooling process, and while the system may spring a leak from time to time. The process of generating heat doesn’t use nearly as much fuel. That means you can heat your home in the winter for much less using a heat pump than you might for a more traditional heater.

The main drawback to heat pumps is that they can’t always function efficiently on extremely cold days. They’re popular in Texas because our winter days don’t get as cold as they can elsewhere. In some instances, a smaller furnace can be included as part of the unit (which are commonly referred to as dual fuel systems). In addition, modern heat pump units are far more effective than they used to be, making heat pumps a smart option for homeowners looking to save money on heating bills.

If you’re in the market for a new system and a heat pump sounds like a good fit for your League City, TX home, call Vanderford Air, Inc. to get the issue corrected.

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