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All About Heat Pumps and How They Work

Heat pumps are ideally suited to moderate winters like the ones we enjoy here in the New Orleans area. They have the advantage of centrally heating the home without the need for natural gas or propane.

So how do they work? Are they energy efficient? What if the power goes out? Let’s take a look at the modern wonder that is a high SEER heat pump.

How does a heat pump work?

The heat pump literally just works in the opposite way from how your AC works. Heat pumps use a reversing valve to redirect the flow of refrigerant through the system.

By reversing the cycle, heat is transferred to the inside air. When you flip your thermostat back to cool, the unit responds by instead transferring the hot inside air to the air outside your home. Instead of generating heat like you would with a furnace, heat pumps simply move heat.

It’s a 100% mechanical process that’s powered and controlled by electricity. A compressor generates pressurized gas refrigerant that acts to move heat in one direction or another.

But are heat pumps efficient?

Depending on climate, the answer is yes. In the North Shore / South Shore area, the answer is a definite YES… At least in the case of a modern and efficient heat pump that’s in good working service.

In weather that often goes below freezing for a large portion of the winter, it might make more sense to use a gas furnace, but the weather around New Orleans rarely drops low enough to make gas heating much more efficient on a cost basis.

Do heat pumps condensate in winter?

No, but it might look like it. Condensate doesn’t form, but the heat pump will often have to go through a defrost cycle. What you’re actually seeing is the ice melting off the outdoor unit. If your system is equipped with electric heat strips, these usually cycle on during defrost to keep your home from cooling down uncomfortably.

Do heat pumps save money? If so, how?

It really depends but if you currently have an older model furnace, it might be time to call your local One Hour team for an upgrade. Modern heat pumps are designed with efficiency in mind, and they work well in our mild winters around New Orleans.

However, if your area experiences a lot of power outages, you might want to consider having a backup source of heat.

As to the question of how they save you money, the units themselves tend to cost a little less for installation than a furnace would. If you’re running electric space heaters, the cost savings will be spread out over the winter months and they will be significant…

Is a heat pump better than an electric heater?

Heat pumps only make use of electricity to power a mechanical process instead of using it directly for heat. The cost savings might not be significant if you only heat portions of your home, but most of us don’t do that anyway.

heat pumps save money over space heaters

That’s the situation where a heat pump will shine. Heating an entire home with a heat pump is extremely efficient when temperatures are above freezing. Heat pumps only use electricity to run two fans, a compressor, and a pump. Space heaters apply all the electricity to a resistive circuit, which is far less efficient. Efficiency increases with heat pumps can be around 300% in mild climates, but do suffer slightly in colder areas.

Think you might want to save some dollars on your power bill this winter? Switch to an all-electric heat pump installed by the expert technicians at One Hour Heating and Air.