What is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump does exactly what it sounds like. It pumps heat from one location to another. Having a heat pump installation done in your home helps not only keep your house warm, but cool as well.

In the winter months, the heat pump draws heat from the outside air and transfers it into your home. Even when it feels extremely cold outside, there is still some traces of heat in the air. If there’s simply not enough heat to meet the demands of your thermostat, the heat pump will engage an electric heater to supplement.

But in the summer, that process is reversed. The heat pump will actually take the heat inside your home and move it to the outside thereby cooling your home.

Difference between Heat Pumps and Air Conditioners

What makes a heat pump different from an air conditioner and why would I want one installed in my home?

I’m glad you asked!

While in cooling mode, a heat pump works the same way as an air conditioner. Many people believe that air conditioners cool the home by blowing cool air, while in truth the process is the same as listed about for the heat pump.

An air conditioner uses compressed refrigerant to draw the heat out of your home and transfer it away, just like a heat pump. Even looking at the outdoor unit, you would be hard pressed to tell the two apart.

But where they differ is in the colder months.

An air conditioner cannot cool, and is absolutely useless to you in the winter. That’s why air conditioners are paired with a furnace. The furnace burns gas to produce heat in your home.

The heat pump, on the other hand, can do both heating and cooling.

Train Heat Pump Installation
Click to Enlarge. Used with permission by Trane.

Benefits of Heat Pumps

All-in-one system

Since a heat pump is an all-in-one, there’s no need for an air conditioner and a furnace. One less system means less maintenance, fewer parts that can break, and no need for additional equipment.

It’s akin to your all-in-one printer. Remember the days of having a separate copier, fax machine, scanner, and printer?

Similarly, you no longer need both an air conditioner and a furnace.

Energy efficient

In the summer, heat pumps provide extremely efficient cooling to reduce your energy bills.

And in the winter, instead of burning fuel like a traditional furnace, heat pumps use their unique properties to transfer heat rather than produce it, thereby cutting costs.

Indoor Air Quality

Since a heat pump mixes air from the outside with that inside your home, what you get is better air quality.

With clean filters and regular maintenance of your heat pump system, you’ll be breathing fresher, cleaner air all year round.

Woman enjoying fresh air because of heat pump

Uniform heating

Have you ever noticed in the winter that one room is warmer than another?

Of course you have.

Typically, you’ll find that your upstairs is warmer than your downstairs. That’s because heat rises and cold air falls.

When your furnace is in operation, the hot and cold air in your home is in constant flux.

But with a heat pump, the inside temperature of your home remains the same throughout. This is because the heat pump doesn’t produce high levels of heat, but rather transfers what heat is available outside.

Safety

Heat pumps are safer than typical combustion based heat systems because there is no flame or gas. You don’t have to worry about gas leaks or explosions from improperly cleaned units.

Drawbacks of Heat Pumps

Upfront cost

Because a heat pump is more complex than an air conditioner, it does have a higher production cost. While a heat pump will save you more money over time, the higher upfront costs are a potential drawback.

Extreme cold

While it is true that heat pumps are capable of pulling heat from the cold air, when outdoor temperatures dip below freezing, the power of the heat pump is compromised.

That’s when the supplemental electric kicks in.

But since electric costs more than gas, the heat pump is likely to cost you more and struggle to keep your home warm. In milder climates, like San Diego, this isn’t a problem as temperatures rarely dip below freezing.

But even this problem has a simple solutions. By using your heat pump and furnace in conjunction, you can maximize efficiency.

When the two systems are connected, the furnace will kick on only when the output of the heat pump isn’t capable of meeting your needs. As soon as temperatures climb to an operable level, the heat pump re-engages and the furnace turns off.

Longevity

Another downside is that heat pumps don’t last as long as air conditioners. While the parts and materials aren’t inferior in anyway, a heat pump operates all year.

This “double duty” means that heat pumps wear out faster than a traditional air conditioner which only operates in the summer.

Even so, heat pumps can last up to 50 years with an average lifespan of 15 years.

Heat Pump Installation in San Diego

Are you considering heat pump installation in your home? Precision Temperature is San Diego’s trusted heating and cooling experts.

Our qualified and licensed technicians are ready and waiting to assist you. We’ll help you choose the right brand and determine what size heat pump is best for your home.

Contact us today to schedule your free in-home estimate.

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