What is a heat pump?

It is an electrical/mechanical device which transfers heat from one place to another place. In climates with moderate heating and cooling, heat pumps provide an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioning systems. Like your air refrigerator, heat pumps circulate refrigerant, cycling it between indoor coils and outdoor coils. This creates energy which extracts heat to make cool spaces warmer.

During the heating season, heat pumps move heat from the outdoor unit into your indoor unit in the house, and during the cooling season, heat pumps transfer heat for the inside of your home, through indoor coils, to the outdoor unit.

Because heat pumps transfer heat rather than generate heat, they can provide up to 4 times the amount of energy they consume.

The most common type of heat pump is the air-source heat pump, which moves heat between your house and the outside air

Heat pumps do use electricity, but they can trim the amount of electricity used for heating by as much as 30% – 40%. Higher HSPF heat pumps also have dehumidifiers, which is better than standard air conditioners, resulting in less energy usage and more cooling comfort in warmer seasons. However, the efficiency of most air-source heat pumps as a heat source will drop dramatically at low temperatures (-10°C), generally making them unsuitable for colder climates, although there are other systems that can overcome that problem.

For homes without ducts, air-source heat pumps are also available in a ductless version they call a mini heat pump.

In a combination gas furnace and electric air conditioner installation, the furnace heats and the air conditioner cools. The annual operation costs are the sum of the two units.

But in a combination of a gas furnace and electric heat pump inhalation, usually the furnace heats below about  -5°C degrees, and the heat pump heats from -5°C up to around 20°C and cools above 20°C (depending on settings).

Therefore, the operations costs of heating below -5°C degrees are the same. However, heating costs from -5°C to 20°C degrees are lowered significantly with the heat pump, and therefore, the annual cost is less than the furnace/AC installation.

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