What Is a Heat Pump?
If you have central air, you also have a large metal box outside your home that may be either a heat pump or an air conditioner. Although both units serve to cool your house in the summer, a heat pump also warms your home during the winter by pulling heat out of the air or ground and transferring it into your house.
Do I Have a Heat Pump or An Air Conditioner?
If your thermostat has an “Emergency Heat” setting, you probably have a heat pump. If it does not, check to see if the condensing unit is running when the heat is on or if you can see a horizontal brass pipe through the top grill, which is the reversing valve. If either of these are true, you have a heat pump. If you see none of these signs, then you probably have an air conditioner.
What Difference Does It Make?
Heat pumps and air conditioners perform similarly in the summer, but heat pumps are a greener source of heat in the winter because they redistribute existing heat instead of creating it, burning no fuel. However, this heat is not as intense as the heat generated by a furnace and often requires a backup heating system when the outside air falls below freezing. Consequently, they are a less popular option in the Northern half of the country, but a much more viable system in the Houston area, where the winters are mild.
What Are My Options?
There are several types of heat pump systems, which vary mainly in how they generate heat.
Air-source heat pumps use fans to push the outside air over refrigerant coils, which heat up as the gas inside is compressed and turned into a liquid. This warm air is then directed inside the home.
Ground-source heat pumps absorb heat either directly from the ground or from an underground water source and are less directly effected by sudden changes in the air temperature.
Absorption heat pumps use ammonia instead of a refrigerant and are run off of natural gas, propane, solar power, or heated water instead of electricity. This type of system used to be reserved for commercial use only, but is now available for large homes as well.
Dual-fuel systems combine a heat pump and a furnace and the most efficient option is used at any given time.
Do I Need One?
If you have an old or inefficient air conditioning system and need to upgrade, a heat pump may be a good option. Although they sometimes come with more upfront cost, they are significantly less expensive to use during the winter and are greener than traditional furnaces.
The best way to tell whether a heat pump is a good option for you is to talk about the particulars of your situation with a professional who can walk you through the pros and cons of both systems. At Kingwood Air Repair, we’re always here to help you make the best decision for you and your family, and we have been for almost 20 years.
Call us today at (281) 441-4500 and ask us your questions.
We’d love to talk to you about your options and help you find the best balance between cost and comfort.
Kingwood Air Repair is proud to serve our friends and neighbors in and around the following cities: Kingwood, Humble, Houston, Conroe, Cypress, Jersey Village, Katy, Spring, The Woodlands, and Tombell.