According to the United States Department of Energy, a heat pump is a very efficient method of cooling and heating your home. Most Seattle heat pumps run on electricity, though more and more manufacturers are offering dual source (electric and gas primarily) fueled heat pumps. This is because heat pumps are only efficient in temperate climates, when the weather gets and stays very cold, the heat pump is not as efficient as a gas or oil-fired furnace.
Heat pumps work by moving heat, not creating it. The same way your refrigerator operates, moving cold air from outside your fridge into it, is the principle a heat pump uses. If you stand near your refrigerator, you will notice that the area behind your refrigerator is warmer than the rest of the room. This is due to the refrigerator taking whatever cool air there was available to it and transferring it into the refrigerator. So, the air outside the refrigerator becomes warmer while the inside gets cooler.
Heat pumps operate the same way. Only in winter they remove the colder from inside your home and transfer it to the outside. In warm weather you reverse the process by moving the switch on the thermostat from heat to cool. The heat pump then works in reverse, moving hot air from inside your home to the outside. As they move heat instead of making heat, heat pumps provide as much as four times the energy they use. It isn’t magical, heat pumps do use a condenser, the condenser chills the air. When it does this it creates heat, the heat is transferred into your home in the winter and out in the summer, while the cooler air in summer is directed into your home by a “reversing valve” which you tell what to do by the switch on your thermostat.
The biggest advantage of a heat pump is that instead of having one system to heat your home and one to cool it, you only have a single system.
Another great benefit of heat pumps is that they have a high SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency rating. The higher the SEER the more efficient the system is.
Many Seattle Utility Companies offer rebate programs when you replace an old air conditioning system or heating system with a high-efficiency one. This make the purchase of a heat pump quite advantageous as well.
Heat pumps can also be attached to smart thermostats also known as set back thermostats. When no one is home you set the temperature a bit higher or lower depending on the season than you want it, you can set the device to go on shortly before the first family comes home and raise or lower the temperature.
The heat pumps we have been describing are the common air to air heat exchanger types. Even more efficient are heat pumps that use geothermal or water as the heat source. The advantages of these types of systems is enhanced efficiency.
Recently an added benefit of heat pumps has been their use in making hot water efficiently.
A heat pump is a technological marvel. It is efficient, affordable and easy to maintain.