In a nutshell, a heat pump is a device that uses electricity to move heat from one place to another. It can be used to extract heat from the air, the ground, or water, and it can be used to provide heating and cooling for a whole building.
Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular in homes and businesses because they are more efficient than traditional heating and cooling systems. They can also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because they use electricity to move heat instead of fossil fuels.
How Do Heat Pumps Work?
Heat pumps use electricity to move refrigerant around a circuit, which causes the refrigerant to change state and absorb or release heat.
The refrigerant starts off as a liquid and absorbs heat from the surroundings. This makes it vaporize, and the vaporized refrigerant is drawn into the compressor. The compressor then squeezes the vaporized refrigerant, which raises its temperature and pressure.
The hot, high-pressure gas is then pushed through a condenser coil, where it releases its heat to the outside world. This causes it to turn back into a liquid, and the liquid refrigerant is drawn back into the evaporator coil to start the process all over again.
The Different Types of Heat Pump
There are two main types of heat pumps: air-source and water-source. Air-source heat pumps use the outside air as their source of heat, while water-source heat pumps use water from a lake, river, or well as their source of heat.
Air-source heat pumps are more common in cold climates because they can extract heat from the outside air even when it is cold. Water-source heat pumps are more common in hot climates because they can transfer heat from the water to the building, which helps to cool it down.
There are also two main types of heat pumps: reversing and non-reversing. Reversing heat pumps can switch between heating and cooling mode, while non-reversing heat pumps can only provide heating or cooling. Reversing heat pumps are more efficient than non-reversing heat pumps. One of the reasons for this is that they don’t have to release any excess heat during cooling mode.
Non-reversing heat pumps tend to come with two compressors and two coils – one running in heating mode, and one running in cooling mode. A reversing heat pump only needs one compressor and one coil, because there is no need for it to switch modes.
How Efficient Are They?
According to the US Department of Energy, all types of heat pumps can provide energy savings of between 30% and 70%. This depends on where you live, the climate, how well insulated your house is, what type of heating or cooling system you are replacing, and how you use your heat pump.
For example, if you live in a cold climate and you use a pump to replace an electric furnace, you could see savings of up to 50%. If you live in a hot climate and use a water-source heat pump to replace an air conditioner, you could see savings of up to 30%.
How Much Do They Cost?
The cost of a heat pump will vary depending on the type and size of the unit. However, as a general rule, they tend to be more expensive than traditional heating and cooling systems. For example, an air-source heat pump might cost around $2,000 to install while a water-source heat pump might cost around $3,000 to install.