If you’re looking for an efficient way to cool or heat your home in San Diego, consider a heat pump. Widely used in Europe and Japan, heat pumps have taken some time to catch on in this country, but they’re becoming better known. Heat pumps are particularly suitable for mild climates like ours. Here’s how heat pumps work, and why you might want one.
Moving Heat In and Out
Electric-powered heat pumps cool in the same way as any refrigeration system. In cooling mode, refrigerant moving through the indoor evaporator absorbs heat from the home, then the condenser/compressor exhausts it outdoors. But heat pumps can also warm your home. Reverse a valve and the refrigerant absorbs heat from outdoor air and moves it indoors. After the air is conditioned, an air handler distributes it through the home’s ductwork.
Heat pumps work best when the outside temperature is above 32-40 degrees F. When outdoor temperatures drop lower, the refrigerant can’t absorb sufficient heat to warm the home. During a cold spell, heat pumps will default to an auxiliary heating source, such as radiant electric coils. A more efficient option is to have the system switch to a gas furnace.
Air source heat pumps (described above) are the most common type. Less common but equally efficient is the geothermal heat pump, which moves refrigerant between the indoor evaporator and loops buried underground. The heat the refrigerant absorbs in the home is expended into the ground in cooling mode; in heating mode, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the ground and moves it indoors.
Heat Pump Efficiency
Heat pumps are generally more efficient than other electric- or oil-powered heating and cooling systems. However, if you use gas and it’s cheap in your area, potential utility savings from a heat pump may not be as much of a selling point. Heat pumps do, however, heat and cool in an even, comfortable way, rather than with blasts of cold or warm air.
For more on cooling or heating with a heat pump, contact Sherlock Heating and Air Conditioning. We serve San Diego and the surrounding area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
Credit/Copyright Attribution: “John T Takai/Shutterstock”