In our mild climate, heat pumps are the system of choice because they’re more than capable of heating and cooling homes efficiently. A heat pump simply moves heat from one place to another, much like your refrigerator works. A heat pump functions just like an air conditioner in the cooling mode, and a reversing valve switches the process in the winter.
The refrigerant in a heat pump carries the heat from one place to another through the outdoor condensing and indoor evaporator coils. In the winter, the refrigerant harvests the heat from the outside and the compressor pumps it into the evaporator coil as a liquid. As the air blows over it inside the air handler, it gives up its heat, which warms your air. The process reverses in the summer and the refrigerant takes the heat from your home and releases it outside.
The only drawback to using heat pumps is the amount of heat the system can gather when temperatures fall into the mid 30s or lower. There’s less heat in the air, so most pumps have a backup electrical coil that turns on when the appliance can’t keep up with the heating demand in your home.
A heat pump can create three times the heat from one unit of energy, while the backup coil can only create one unit for each watt it uses. Ways exist to avoid using the backup coil as temperatures fall that include:
- Choosing a system with a scroll compressor. This type can provide air that’s 12 to 15 degrees F warmer than one with a piston compressor.
- Leaving the thermostat at the same setting at night when the weather is going to fall into the 30s.
- Using a special type of thermostat called an intelligent recovery thermostat. These sense the amount of heat needed and shut off the auxiliary heating coil by running the heat pump more often, regardless of the thermostat’s setting.
To learn more about heat pumps for your home, contact Beyer Boys. We’ve been providing HVAC services for San Antonio homeowners since 1990.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Antonio, Texas area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).