If you’re looking at major HVAC components for a home, you’re going to see a lot of mentions of heat pumps. Compared to air conditioners and furnaces, they are a new technology, and they bring new options to homeowners. Heat pumps come with their own slew of pros and cons. So to help you understand the choices in front of you, we’re going to explain how heat pumps work and what that translates to in terms of benefits and trade-offs.
The Basics of How Heat Pumps Work
Heat pumps work on the exact same principle as an air conditioner. With either setup, a refrigerant is paired with a compressor to squeeze heat out of the air. With an air conditioner, the squeezed air is sent through your ducts to pump cold air throughout the house. All of the extra heat is then dumped outside.
A heat pump can also cool a home in this exact same way, and during the summer, a heat pump is just an air conditioner. The difference between the two is that a heat pump can work in reverse. When the weather is cold, the heat pump will still squeeze heat out of the outdoor air. It will then leave the cold air outside and pump the hot air through the house.
Pros of Heat Pumps
Heat pumps have steadily gained popularity in recent years, and that’s largely because they bring a lot to the table.
The primary reason that they are so commonly recommended is that they are more efficient. Particularly when it comes to heating, the heat pump makes use of heat that is already in the outdoor air. That means it requires less energy to keep a home at a comfortable temperature. That leads to lower utility bills, and it makes for an enticing HVAC system.
Since heat pumps are so efficient, they are also a greener heating option. They produce far fewer carbon emissions than other furnaces (especially natural gas). They also lower overall wear and tear on the HVAC systems. While that is once again good for your wallet, it also helps reduce waste tied to shorter lifespans on less-efficient systems.
Heat pumps also provide major tech upgrades to HVAC. Air to water heat pumps use their mechanisms to heat a reservoir of water. In a simple case, the heat pump replaces your water heater, making everything that much easier and cheaper to run. In more advanced cases, heat pumps can pair with radiators for rapid warming.
Another advanced technology is the ground source heat pump. This uses the insulation of the earth to deliver heating across a house with fewer losses. Once again, efficiency is improved, and you get all of the advantages that come with it.
Cons of Heat Pumps
For all that is great about heat pumps, they are not perfect. As with any technology, investing in a heat pump will expose you to trade-offs, and it’s important to understand them before you make a commitment.
One of the major drawbacks to heat pumps is the up-front cost. Heat pumps almost always cost more than other furnaces, and the air to water or ground source systems raise those prices even higher. The goal is to get that money back over time, but you’ll be paying more out of pocket to get started.
The biggest limit to heat pumps has to do with how they heat. Because they draw heat out of the air, heat pumps stop working if the air is cold enough. To be more precise, heat pumps lose efficacy when the air temperature gets below freezing. In such weather, a furnace has to take over.
In Texas, heat pump systems are usually attached to air handlers to make sure a home can stay warm when the temperatures do get especially low. The thermostat automatically controls which device is heating the air depending on the outdoor temperature. This setup makes your overall HVAC system more expensive, but it’s still more efficient than always using a furnace — especially in Texas where the winters are shorter and milder.
The last drawback to heat pumps is that they are more complicated. That makes them harder to install and maintain. It also adds components that can fail. While heat pumps typically have a good lifespan, complications inevitably lead to higher maintenance and/or repair costs at some point.
If you want to take a closer look at heat pumps that might be available for your Arlington area home, contact Metro Express Service. We can show you a selection and help you understand exactly what you can get from each choice. When you’re ready, we’ll install the unit and system that you choose.