Heat pumps have come into the spotlight as the U.S. government urges more property owners to opt for more efficient heating and cooling systems. Whether you’re new to heat pumps or your home already has one, there’s a lot to know to get the most benefit for your home. Use this complete guide to understand what heat pumps are, the differences between them and standard HVAC equipment, the different types available, and the benefits you’ll enjoy with the right unit in your home.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is an HVAC appliance that redistributes heat. In the summer, it absorbs heat from inside your home and distributes it outside. Over the summer, it absorbs heat from the outside to distribute it inside. These systems are similar to air conditioners, which use some type of refrigerant to absorb and transfer heat.
Comparing Heat Pumps to Standard HVAC Equipment
Traditional HVAC systems usually include a furnace or boiler for heating and window units or a central system for air conditioning. With these traditional systems, you have two different units that need maintenance and repair. With heat pumps, there’s a reversing valve that allows them to provide both cooling and heating.
With furnaces and boilers, you’re burning fuel to generate heat. This heat is transferred into the air either through a heat exchanger for furnaces or through radiators for boilers. The challenge with this is that both systems lose heat with the exhaust from the burned fuel. Heat pumps use electricity to manage the refrigerant’s pressure, which is what allows it to absorb and expel heat. Thus, it doesn’t lose any heat, allowing it to redistribute more than the comparable amount of energy consumed.
Different Types of Heat Pumps
Like every HVAC system, heat pumps have different models with varying efficiency ratings. Beyond efficiency, heat pumps also have different heat transfer media and different options for how they distribute heat throughout your home.
Air Source Heat Pumps
The most common type of heat pump is the air-sourced model. This has a unit that sits outside, much like a central air conditioner. It uses the air outside your home as the medium through which it both absorbs and expels heat, depending on the mode.
This type of heat pump is common because it’s relatively inexpensive to install. It simply needs refrigerant lines and an outside compressing unit. The challenge is that if the air outside gets cold enough, it can make these systems ineffective. Fortunately, the weather around Jacksonville doesn’t typically get cold enough to be an issue.
Ground Source Geothermal Heat Pumps
Ground-source units use the heat and insulation offered by the ground rather than relying on the air outside. With these units, the refrigerant coils are buried, usually between 4 feet and 6 feet in the ground. In Florida, this usually means the temperature of the soil is in the mid-50s. This is cool enough to absorb heat from the refrigerant during the summer and to offer heat to redistribute inside during the winter.
Water Source Geothermal Heat Pumps
Water-source geothermal systems are similar to ground-sourced models, except that it’s not merely the ground used as a heat transfer medium. Rather, the refrigerant coil is buried in a water source that’s deep enough that it will not freeze at the bottom. Within these systems, there are two options. This includes a closed loop or an open loop. A closed-loop system will use refrigerant in lines that run out into the water. An open-loop system draws the water into the system directly and then returns it after it has cycled through.
Ductless Heat Pumps
Both an air-sourced or geothermal heat pump can be connected to a ductless mini-split system. Rather than running to a central air handler that pushes conditioned air out through ducts, these units use smaller air handlers placed throughout your home. The refrigerant lines run to each air handler, allowing each smaller unit to more effectively manage the temperature for the space it’s responsible for. The benefit is tighter control throughout the various areas of your home.
Standard Versus High-Efficiency Heat Pumps
Standard heat pumps use a single-stage compressor, which means they’re running on high all the time. It will also have a single-speed circulating fan.
Higher-efficiency systems come equipped with two- or variable-speed compressors and circulating fans. These will keep the system running almost constantly, but at a lower capacity. The reduced capacity further improves the energy efficiency of the system by maintaining your desired temperature rather than constantly raising or lowering it.
Benefits of Choosing a Heat Pump
Heat pumps are an incredibly efficient method of heating and cooling your home, especially in moderate winter climates. These are the benefits that excite most people about having a heat pump in their home.
Lower Heating and Cooling Bills
One of the biggest reasons why people appreciate heat pumps is because of the reduced costs of keeping the home comfortable. Because heat pumps merely redistribute heat, 100% of the energy your system consumes goes into heating your home. While electricity is usually more expensive than natural gas, heat pump efficiency makes up for that difference and keeps your bills lower.
Better Home Comfort
Another incredible benefit is that your home remains more comfortable while using a heat pump, especially a high-efficiency model. All heat pumps will run longer heating cycles because they don’t produce the same temperature rise you get with a furnace. This means that your home’s temperature stays consistently the same more often, rather than going through the ups and downs of traditional systems.
When you have traditional HVAC appliances, you’ll require maintenance and repairs for two different units. With a heat pump, you’ll still want to have it serviced twice a year, usually in the fall and spring. However, when you put money into repairs, you know that you’re less likely to have similar or additional repairs in the same season. This cuts down on your overall repair expenses and makes it simpler to keep track of the work done on the system. You also achieve better reliability.
Special Rebates and Tax Incentives Available
As mentioned earlier, the U.S. government is strongly encouraging property owners to opt for more efficient and environmentally friendly heating and cooling options. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 made special rebates and tax credits available for upgrading high-efficiency HVAC systems. These credits and rebates can help bring down the net costs of these systems, making them more attractive than less expensive systems that cost more to run and maintain.
Whenever you are looking for a trusted HVAC professional to keep your Jacksonville area home comfortable throughout the year, look no further than Bold City Heating & Air. Since 2016, our team has proudly offered AC and heating installation, maintenance, and repair. This is in addition to various indoor air quality solutions, duct cleaning, and insulation installation. Call to schedule a consultation with one of our NATE-certified heat pump technicians today.