Heat Pumps: Thrifty, Eco-Friendly Heating/Cooling Options Year-Round

When it comes to cooling your home or office, a heat pump is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Why would you want to pump heat around during the summer? But what gets overlooked is that heat pumps work in two directions—they bring heat in, but they can also chase it away. So don’t let the name fool you— heat pumps can both heat and cool your building, making them an economical and environmentally friendly option to traditional central air.


How a Heat Pump Works

There are two types of heat pumps—air source and ground source.

Air source heat pumps use a two-way circulation system to pass outside air through a unit that heats it in the winter and cools it in the summer.

A typical system has two components. An outdoor unit has a heat exchanger with a coil and fan. The coil operates as a condenser in cooling mode and an evaporator in heating mode. An indoor unit, called the air handler, also has a coil and a fan. The indoor fan blows the heated or cooled air through the building’s air distribution system.

In operation, it’s much like your kitchen refrigerator, exchanging hot air for cold. In appearance, it’s similar to a typical HVAC unit, but it uses considerably less energy to do its work.

For more information about how air source heat pumps work, see this video on the This Old House YouTube channel.

Ground-source heat pumps transfer heat stored in the Earth into a building during the winter and out during the summer. These are less common and more costly than air-source options.


Energy Saving with an Eco-Friendly Heat Pump

A heat pump saves energy costs in two ways. First, it’s an all-electric system so there’s no natural gas or other fossil fuel expense. Second, by using the outside air as a supplemental energy source instead of relying totally on heating and cooling coils, overall electricity use is lowered compared to other systems.

And since overall energy use is cut back, it’s not only economical, it’s environmentally friendly as well.


Other Heat Pump Considerations

Just like any other appliance, heat pump quality and efficiency can vary. A few years ago, they got a bad rap, especially with heating in cold climates. But advances in technology have largely overcome those objections. Watch this space for more information on cold climate heat pumps in an upcoming article. A knowledgeable contractor can guide you to the unit that will work best for you.

Purchase and installation costs are comparable to central air, but still represents a major investment. Sometimes a mini-split system (which uses the same technology as a heat pump) can be less expensive.

Energy costs are also a consideration since a heat pump is all-electric and many furnaces use natural gas or other fossil fuels for heating. With energy prices fluctuating wildly, a look at those costs is in order. But long-term projections are risky and many studies have shown that even when there’s a difference in the cost per BTU of natural gas and electricity that tilts in favor of gas, the difference is mitigated by the lower power needs of heat pumps.

Since heat pumps are considered eco-friendly, there are also incentives offered by government agencies and utilities, so be sure to check those out. And the lowered environmental footprint of heat pumps is there regardless.


Be Safe. Use Licensed Contractors

Electrical work will be needed with any HVAC system you choose for your home or business. The unit(s) may need a dedicated 240-volt line as well as other wiring and connections, work that should only be done by a licensed electrical contractor. So don’t risk your comfort and safety by overlooking important electrical work to make your home improvements function at their best all year round.


Allstar Electrical Services delivers the expertise and quality results you expect and deserve for your projects, whatever your needs may be. Just give us a call at (303) 399-7420 or visit our website. Then use our handy online forms to request a free estimate or set up an appointment. We’ve served the Front Range for over 20 years, are top-rated by the Better Business Bureau and are proud to be listed as a preferred contractor by Angi’s Home Advisor.