What are heat pumps and how do they work?

Southern AirPosting

When it comes to keeping your home comfortable here in South Louisiana, you have options. In the summer, an air conditioner can keep you cool. In the winter months, a furnace can keep you warm. However, there’s one type of system that can do both efficiently and effectively: heat pumps. In this article, we’ll review what heat pumps are, how they work, and what makes a heat pump the right fit for your home.

Heat pumps, like this one, resemble air conditioners.

The outdoor unit for heat pumps, such as this one, superficially resembles an air conditioner. That’s because they both use the same process to cool air in the summer. The key difference is that a heat pump can reverse operation and heat your home in the winter, tool.

Perfect for your year-round comfort needs

Heat pumps are capable of both cooling your home in the summer and heating it in the winter. In other words, they’re a year-round, all-in-one comfort solution for your home.

How do they work?

It’s right there in the name: “heat pump.” All heat pumps operate by moving (or “pumping”) heat energy from one place to another. To move heat energy efficiently, the system uses refrigerant. In one place, the refrigerant absorbs heat energy from the surrounding area. It then cycles that refrigerant to another place, where the heat energy is released. As the refrigerant cools back down, the system cycles it back to the first stop on that journey, and the process repeats.

If this process sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the basic physics behind how air conditioners work. In the hot, summer months, both air conditioners and heat pumps use refrigerant to pull heat energy from your home and move it outside, where it is released. This happens again and again until enough heat energy has been removed that the air begins to cool.

The only core difference between a heat pump and an air conditioner is that the former is capable of reversing that cycle. In the winter, the heat pump can pull heat energy out of the outdoor air (trust us, it’s there—even if it’s relatively cold out!) and then cycle it inside, warming the air inside of your home.

What are the benefits of heat pumps?

Heat pumps are a good fit for many homes because they’re:

  • Energy-Efficient: Most heat pumps are more energy-efficient at winter heating than gas or electric furnaces. They have the potential to save homeowners money on their energy bills in the colder months of the year.
  • Versatile: With a heat pump, your home only needs one system for its cooling and heating, as opposed to two separate systems: an air conditioner and a furnace.
  • Reliable: With the right professional maintenance and care, heat pumps can bring your home reliable heating and cooling for many years to come.

What are the limitations of heat pumps?

When it comes to winter operation, the colder the outside air, the harder it is for the heat pump to pull residual heat energy out of it. At a certain point, most heat pump systems are going to struggle to do so efficiently or effectively. This is why heat pump systems are most often felt in the Sun Belt states and the South, where our winters are mild compared to places like the Midwest and Northeast.

We’ll help you find the right heat pump for your home

At Southern Air, our team is proud to install high-performance residential heat pumps from two trusted manufacturers: Trane and Carrier. These two companies create some of the best heat pumps available today, with best-in-class energy efficiency, reliability, and comfort performance. Here are two of their flagship heat pumps:

Trane XV20i Variable Speed

  • This system features best-in-class energy efficiency, with up to 20 SEER in the summer and 10 HSPF in the winter.
  • This Trane has a TruComfort™ variable-speed system with more than 700 stages of operation. This means that the unit can adjust its speed to bring your home exact comfort—all while saving you money on your electric bills.
  • To top it all off, this Trane is one of the quietest heat pumps available today.

Carrier Infinity® 20 Heat Pump With Greenspeed® Intelligence

  • This Carrier heat pump gets up to 20.5 SEER cooling efficiency and up to 13 HSPF heating efficiency.
  • It features variable-speed operation, allowing it to adjust its operation for greater energy efficiency, performance, and lower sound output.
  • As with all Carrier systems, the Infinity® 20 Heat Pump is designed with ultimate comfort for your home in mind.

To get a free in-home estimate on a new Carrier or Trane heat pump and to learn if a heat pump system is right for you, call us today. Be sure to ask about our financing, available with approved credit.