Heat pumps are clean, energy-efficient alternatives to combustion-based heating and cooling. While the first commercially-available residential heat pumps were disappointing in both performance and efficiency, the systems have been substantially refined. New technology makes the heat pump among the most energy-efficient methods for heating and cooling available for your Highland Park, Illinois, home today.

How a Heat Pump Works

Heat pumps cool and heat by moving heat from one place to another. Even in a cold environment, there’s always some latent heat energy in the air. The technology exploits the heat-absorbing properties of refrigerant to extract that heat.

During winter, a heat pump extracts heat energy from the outside air. The refrigerant is pressurized by a compressor which raises its temperature. The refrigerant then moves through an insulated pipe to another coil located in the home. As the hot refrigerant circulates through the coil, the heat energy is released and dispersed by a blower fan into your home’s ductwork to warm the living spaces.

In summer, the process is reversed. Instead of transferring outside heat into the house, the system moves indoor heat outdoors.
The refrigerant circulating through the indoor coil absorbs heat from inside, moves it outside to the compressor and then to the outdoor coil. The process of switching from heating mode to cooling mode is facilitated by a reversing valve that changes the direction of refrigerant flow.

Heat Pumps Are More Efficient

Since heat pumps simply transfer heat, no combustion or electrical resistance heating is involved. Some energy is always lost during combustion of natural gas.

Heat pump performance in winter may fluctuate based on the outdoor temperature. However, where temperatures remain above freezing, a heat pump will almost always trump a combustion furnace. Heat pump efficiency has been steadily climbing over the past decade due to advancements like:

  • Thermostatic expansion valves (TXV) which continuously meter the flow of refrigerant between the indoor and outdoor coil to match the cooling or heating load.

  • Variable speed blowers – circulate air at a variable rate according to air conditioning needs.

  • More efficient coil design with increased coil surface and careful matching of the indoor coil to the outdoor coil.

Interested in a heat pump for your home? For more information about the benefits of heat pump technology, contact the experts at Carefree Comfort, Inc. today.

Image provided by Shutterstock