How Do Heat Pumps Work?

What are Heat Pumps?

A heat pump is a fully reversible system, meaning that it can both heat and cool a home, providing year-round comfort. The most common type of heat pump in North America is an air-source heat pump. In the summer, an air-source heat pump works just like a regular AC: it takes warm air from inside your home and moves it outside. But in the winter, a heat pump works like an AC in reverse. Another type of heat pump is ground-source. It uses the earth, ground water, or both as the source of heat in the cooler months, and removes heat from the home in warmer months.

You may be wondering, “How can heat pumps warm a home in the winter, if they absorb heat from the cold outdoors?” Heat pumps have a something called a ‘reversing valve’, which will change the direction of refrigerant flow in the system, depending on what the thermostat inside the home is calling for.

How Can Heat Pumps Improve Efficiency?

The drive to incentivize electrification across North America is expected to further boost heat pump installations, and adoption of heat pumps in Europe are at an all-time high.

The major benefit of using a heat pump is the high efficiency it can provide in heating compared to typical systems like furnaces, boilers and electric baseboards. This efficiency can translate into significant energy use reductions. Actual savings in a home will depend on a number of factors, including local climate, efficiency of current systems as well as the size and type of heat pump.

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  1. […] As its name suggests, ‘Fuel Switching’ is the process of replacing an inefficient fuel source with cleaner and economical alternatives, electrification is a type of fuel switching. This is the process by which technologies that use coal, oil, and natural gas are replaced with those that draw energy from electricity. This is becoming more common with building decarbonization strategies. An example of fuel switching could be replacing a home’s gas furnace with an all-electric air-source heat pump. […]

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