Now that summer has officially begun, you’re probably reaching for the thermostat and turning it down as the temperature goes up. Air conditioning is the most common way that indoor spaces are kept cool, but it isn’t the only way. And in fact, it isn’t the most efficient way either, as generating all that cool air is a process that requires a lot of energy.
An energy efficient alternative for cooling (and heating) your home is a heat pump. The main difference between heat pumps and traditional HVAC such as central air conditioning and natural gas heating is that while the latter use electricity or fossil fuels to create cool or heat, heat pumps work by simply transferring heat or cool from where it is to where you want it to be.
For example, in the winter, though the air temperature may be cool, there is still plenty of heat energy in the ground. A heat pump can be used to extract this heat from the ground and move it inside your home, which warms it up. Because you’re just moving heat rather than creating it, a lot less energy is used, making the process more efficient and less costly. The principle works in reverse in the summer. Heat pumps can be used to transfer heat energy out of your home to cool it down.
There are several different kinds of heat pumps available, including air source heat pumps (which extract energy from the air), and geothermals (which take energy from the ground). Both of these pumps use ducts to conduct heat and cool, but homes without ducts can still take advantage of the efficiency of heat pumps with a mini-split heat pump or reverse cycle chiller (both of which are derivations of air source pumps), which can be used for ductless heating and cooling.
It’s important to note that the efficiency of heat pumps decreases in areas that see sustained periods of below-freezing temperatures. However, for the many states in the US which see mild temperatures year round, heat pumps can provide an efficient and economical method of heating and cooling. Talk to your local HVAC contractor today and visit Energy.gov for more information on heat pumps.
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