Most homeowners are familiar with central AC systems and furnaces, but may not know as much about heat pumps. Highly efficient in both the summer and winter, heat pumps are an excellent alternative to conventional HVAC systems. But are they more effective at heating or cooling?

In the latest blog post from Rusk Heating and Cooling, we’ll discuss the heating and cooling process with a heat pump, as well as which mode is most effective. Contact us today for heat pump services in the Greater Cincinnati area.

Using a Heat Pump for Heating

In heating mode, a heat pump operates by utilizing the same basic principles as in cooling mode, but the direction of heat transfer is reversed. Instead of extracting heat from the outdoor air and releasing it outside, the heat pump absorbs heat from the outdoor air (even in cold temperatures) and transfers it indoors to warm the living space.

The heat pump heating process works by utilizing the following parts:

  1. Outdoor Coil: The outdoor unit of the heat pump contains a coil that acts as an evaporator when in heating mode. The cold refrigerant (a special fluid) inside the coil absorbs heat energy from the outdoor air. Despite the cold temperatures, there is still heat energy present in the air, and the refrigerant evaporates as it absorbs this heat.
  2. Compressor: The low-pressure, low-temperature gaseous refrigerant is then drawn into the compressor. The compressor increases the pressure of the refrigerant, causing its temperature to rise significantly. This compression process is where the refrigerant gains energy.
  3. Indoor Coil: The now high-pressure, high-temperature refrigerant is pumped into the indoor unit’s coil, which acts as a condenser when heating. As the refrigerant flows through the coil, it releases the heat it gained during compression into the indoor air, warming it.
  4. Expansion Valve: The refrigerant, which has now cooled down and turned into a low-pressure gas, passes through an expansion valve. This valve reduces the pressure of the refrigerant and causes it to evaporate and cool rapidly.
  5. Outdoor Coil: The cool refrigerant now returns to the outdoor unit’s coil, where it absorbs more heat from the indoor air. This cycle repeats, continuously transferring heat from the outdoor air to the indoor space.

Using a Heat Pump for Cooling

While the name leads many to believe that heat pumps are exclusively heating systems, they’re actually incredibly efficient cooling systems as well. During the hot summer months, the heating cycle is essentially reversed to create cool air. A heat pump will extract warmth from inside the home and release it outside, cooling the indoor air and maintaining a comfortable temperature.

When the system is in cooling mode, the outdoor coil, typically responsible for absorbing heat from the outdoor air during heating mode, will function as a condenser. It releases heat outdoors, while the indoor air cools as the refrigerant absorbs its warmth.

A heat pump’s method of cooling is highly efficient and can save energy, making heat pumps a popular alternative to traditional air conditioning systems.

Are Heat Pumps Better at Heating or Cooling?

Heat pumps are excellent alternatives to central air conditioners and furnaces because of their ability to provide comfort all year round. Ultimately, heat pumps are just as effective when heating or cooling because they utilize the same technology for both processes. This dual functionality makes them versatile and energy-efficient solutions for maintaining indoor comfort.

When it comes to cooling, heat pumps offer advantages such as consistent temperature control, gradual cooling, and humidity management. Their ability to extract warmth from indoor air during the cooling process allows for greater energy savings and a more stable indoor environment.

In heating mode, heat pumps provide excellent efficiency. The heat pump can harness thermal energy from the outdoor air, even during the cold winter days, to provide reliable warmth while consuming less energy than conventional heating systems.

Choose Rusk for Heat Pump Services in the Greater Cincinnati Area

When the time comes to install a heat pump in your Cincinnati area home, turn to Rusk. Our team is backed by decades of experience and will help your home maintain comfortable temperatures all year round. Schedule an appointment with our team today.