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What’s the Difference between a Heat Pump and Other Heating Systems?

Thermostat DialA heat pump can keep you just as comfortable as other heating systems, but there are some major ways a heat pump’s operation differs. A gas furnace is the most popular heating system in the US, but a heat pump bears little resemblance to these systems aside from its use of a blower fan and the ducts and vents in your home.

Heat pumps actually look a lot like an air conditioner, and you’ll learn more about why this is in the guide below. As it turns out, heat pumps are cooling and heating systems—and highly efficient ones too.

A Heat Pump Uses Refrigerant

If you’ve heard the word “refrigerant” used before, or a common brand-name “Freon,” you might feel surprised to learn it is used in a heating system. Refrigerant is also used in standard central air conditioners and refrigerators, as the name may suggest.

However, refrigerant is not only used for cooling. In fact, in an air conditioner and a refrigerator, refrigerant is the chemical that is used for ­­heat transfer.

So, in a heat pump, which is an air conditioning and heating system in one, refrigerant is used for cooling. In a sense, it absorbs heat from the air in your home and moves it outside—a method of heat transfer.

When you switch your thermostat into heating mode, however, the process reverses. A reversing valve kicks in, allowing refrigerant to work the same way in the other direction. Refrigerant absorbs heat from the outside air and moves it inside, heating your home!

This Process Uses Electricity—But Less than Other Systems

Electric heating systems are unpopular in some parts of the country, due to the high cost of electricity that makes these systems costly to run. While a heat pump uses electricity, the way it works means that it uses a lot less than any electric furnace (or any other system that uses electric resistance heating).

Heat pumps move heat from place to place rather than needing to constantly generate heat for warmth. Moving heat is far more efficient than generating heat. And that means that a heat pump will cost less to run than even the most efficient electric furnaces.

It Can Work in Cold Weather

One thing to note about heat pumps is that they can, in fact, work in cold weather. Many people worry that, as temperatures drop outside, there will be no heat left for a heat pump to absorb. While efficiency may drop as temperatures do, a heat pump should still work even as outside temperatures approach freezing.

If you have a heat pump that is a couple of decades old, it may have never been as efficient as you’d like. But new heat pumps work more efficiently than they ever have before!

A Furnace Could Be the Better Option

A heat pump is an excellent system for homeowners in many parts of the country. However, a furnace/air conditioner combination might still be the best bet for you. This is especially true if it’s not time to replace your AC, or if you’ve never had problems using a gas furnace. You’ll have to talk to a technician to help you decide on the best option for your home.

Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. offers heat pump services in Aztec, NM. Don’t waste your time with the run-around. Give us a call and let us do it right the first time!

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