If you’re considering a heat pump for your Galveston, TX, home, it’s likely because you’ve heard about how efficient they are. However, if you’ve seen some of the efficiency claims made about heat pumps (they are more efficient than gas furnaces), you may also be feeling a little skeptical about them. To put those misgivings to rest, here’s everything you need to know about how heat pumps work and why they are as efficient as you’ve heard.

What Is a Heat Pump?

As its name suggests, a heat pump is a device that’s capable of collecting heat and transporting it from one place to another. To do so, it uses the refrigeration cycle, just like an air conditioner or refrigerator. The biggest difference between a heat pump and those devices is that a heat pump is bi-directional. That means a heat pump can heat your home in the winter and cool it in the summer. It also means that a heat pump, unlike conventional heating systems, doesn’t consume energy to generate heat. It relies on already-existing heat energy found in the outside air instead.

How a Heat Pump Works

The secret to the high efficiency of heat pumps lies in how they collect the heat necessary to warm your home. They do it by manipulating the pressure of a refrigerant, making it capable of first absorbing and then expelling heat. In the winter, the process begins with the system’s refrigerant in a low-pressure, liquid state. In that state, the refrigerant will be quite cold and have a very low boiling point. The refrigerant then passes through a heat exchanger in the outdoor unit while a fan blows outside air across it. Since the refrigerant is colder than the outside air, it naturally absorbs some of the heat energy from it. This causes the refrigerant to boil, making the transition to a low-pressure, warm vapor.

Next, a compressor increases the refrigerant’s pressure, transforming it into a pressurized hot vapor. Now, at a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, that vapor travels into your home before passing through another heat exchanger. Except this time, it’s the cooler indoor air from your home that gets blown across the heat exchanger. This warms up the air so it can warm up your home. Afterward, the refrigerant travels back outside to begin the process again. In the summer, the process works exactly the same way, except in reverse.

The Real Efficiency of Heat Pumps

Since a heat pump only consumes electricity to run a compressor and some fans, it can achieve some almost unbelievable levels of efficiency. Under ideal conditions, some modern heat pumps can run at close to 400% efficiency in heating mode. That means you get four units of usable heat for every unit of electricity consumed. By contrast, the most efficient gas furnace on the market can only reach approximately 98.5% efficiency. And in cooling mode, while heat pumps don’t reach those astounding efficiency levels, they still provide cooling capacity that puts them on par with the most efficient AC systems available.

There is a caveat, however. It’s that heat pumps only operate at that high efficiency down to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Below that, their efficiency gradually drops off. By about 25 degrees Fahrenheit, they’re approximately as efficient as the average gas furnace. The good news about that, though, is that the average overnight temperature here in Galveston is 48 degrees in January, which is the low point for each year. As a result, heat pumps are an all-but-perfect HVAC solution for homes here. They can handle all of your home’s heating and cooling needs while saving you money, to boot.

If you think a heat pump would make a good fit for your Galveston home’s HVAC needs, George’s Air Conditioning can help. We’ve served customers here since 1999, offering high-quality HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance services, including heat pumps. We also handle commercial HVAC systems and offer indoor air quality services as well. And if you need help affording a new heat pump for your home, we offer financing services on approved credit, too. So, for the latest in heat pumps for your Galveston home, call George’s Air Conditioning today.

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