Heat pumps are ideal if you live in an area with moderate winters, like Birmingham, Alabama. Many HVAC systems are comprised of separate outdoor and indoor components that include an air conditioner and a gas or electric furnace. A heat pump, on the other hand, is a single unit that both heats and cools a home. Here’s how it does that.

How a Heat Pump Works

Heat pumps function in a similar way to air conditioners. They transfer heat from outside to inside and vice versa using a refrigeration cycle. It sounds strange but even when it’s cold outside the air still contains heat. A heat pump pulls heat out of the air or, in the case of geothermal heat pumps, from the ground to heat a home and reverses the process to cool the home. Because a heat pump moves heat and doesn’t generate heat like a furnace, it is more energy-efficient.

The Parts of a Heat Pump

A heat pump’s main parts consist of a compressor, condenser, expansion valve, and evaporator. It also has refrigerant pipes that connect the outdoor and indoor units. Refrigerant runs through these lines to either bring heat into or take heat out of the house. When seasons change and you need to switch the cycle, a reversing valve reverses the direction of the flow of refrigerant.

Backup Heating

While most southern states in the United States don’t often suffer frigid temperatures, occasionally temperatures in Birmingham and surrounding areas may drop to the freezing point. Heat pumps are able to heat homes, but for longer durations of sub-zero weather, alternative heating systems are more efficient. When that happens, most automatically switch to the backup heating system that is typically a gas or electric furnace. These types of systems are called dual fuel heating systems.

Heat pumps require less space and are more eco-friendly as they don’t rely heavily on fossil fuel like natural gas, propane, or oil. Because they’re more energy-efficient they have the added benefit of lowering your electric bill. If you’re interested in installing a heat pump in your Birmingham home, call One Source Heating, Cooling & Electrical at (205) 509-1929.

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