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What You Should Know About Heat Pumps

Most homeowners have heard of heat pumps, but many don't understand how they differ from a conventional central heating and air conditioning system. In addition, heat pumps offer several advantages and disadvantages that you may not be aware of. Below is more information about heat pumps, including how they function, and some of the pros and cons involved with their use.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is simply a system that extracts heat from the air and moves it to another location. In the case of indoor climate control, heat pumps "shuttle" warmth inside or outside depending on the season of the year.
During the cooling season when outdoor temperatures are high, a heat pump system functions in the same manner as an ordinary air conditioner. First, a compressor pumps refrigerant into an indoor evaporator coil where heat from inside the home is drawn into the refrigerant. This leaves cool air to be blown into the home's interior via ducts.
Meanwhile, the heated refrigerant is sent to a condenser coil, which lies outside the home, and its heat content is transferred to the atmosphere. The process is repeated again and again to keep the home cool.
However, a heat pump's unique functionality is brought out during the winter. Instead of functioning one-way as a conventional air conditioner does, a special device known as an expansion valve reverses the flow of refrigerant through the system.
As a result, the indoor evaporator coil functions as a condenser coil by releasing heat, while the outdoor condenser coil becomes an evaporator coil by extracting heat from the atmosphere. Even though the air may be frigid outside, the relative difference between the outside air and the stillcolder refrigerant allows the transfer to take place.
What Are the Advantages Offered by Heat Pumps?
1.Decreased Heating Expenses
Conventional central heating and air conditioning systems rely upon the use of a separate heating mechanism to warm the air entering the home. This results in increased expense for homeowners due to the usage of electricity, natural gas or heating oil.
However, since heat pumps transfer existing heat from the outside, they merely concentrate it and use it to heat the interior space of a home. The energy expended to move heat is much less than that to create heat.
2. Quieter, Safer and Cleaner Operation
Since heat pumps don't depend on the burning of gas or oil or the heating of electrical elements, they tend to be quieter than conventional central heating and air systems. In addition, they don't produce any combustion byproducts, such as carbon monoxide, and pose less threat of possible poisoning to residents.
Additionally, heat pumps don't require the use of vents and stacks to exhaust combustion gases and particulates, such as soot. This makes heat pumps a less dirty option for homeowners who don't want to have to clean up the messes made by burning fuels.
What Are the Disadvantages of Heat Pumps?
1. Increased Installation and Repair Costs
Heat pumps are more advanced technology than conventional air heating and air conditioning, so the upfront costs of purchasing and installing heat pumps are higher. In addition, heat pumps may be more expensive to repair, should there be a breakdown of a component.
2. Need for Heating Supplementation
In some areas of the nation, heat pumps don't perform adequately during the winter due to the milder heat levels produced. Heat pumps can struggle in harsh winter climates due to the reduction in relative temperature levels between refrigerants and outdoor temperatures, and often require augmented heating to overcome this limitation.
That means a heat pump system is likely to be equipped with an electrical heating element, if the installer believes a system won't be able to keep a home warm enough in a cold climate. Of course, this also reduces the efficiency of a heat pump by requiring the use of additional energy.
If you have questions about heat pumps or any other heating and air conditioning concerns, be sure to contact Action Plumbing & Heating Maintenance for assistance. Their staff of professionals is ready and able to help meet your air conditioning and heating needs.