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How a Heat Pump System Works

Rather than creating heat by burning fuel (like propane or heating oil), heat pumps pull heat from the air outside and transfer it to the indoors. That makes them a greener choice than most fossil-fuel systems, especially when they use renewable energy or electricity from a clean grid. And because they move heat rather than generate it, heat pumps can be up to five times more efficient per unit of energy than combustion furnaces and electric-resistance heaters.

Heat pump systems have two units: one outdoors and one inside your home. The outdoor unit contains a compressor that raises and lowers the refrigerant’s temperature to absorb thermal energy from the air around it. Then it transfers that heat to the inside unit’s coils.

The inside unit has coils called the evaporator and condenser, which look like radiators or air conditioner coils. The Heat Pump works by using a special liquid called refrigerant to move that thermal energy between these coils. The coils in the evaporator absorb heat and then release it into your home. The condenser coils in the heat pump’s outdoor unit vaporize the refrigerant and then return it to the evaporator coils. The refrigerant in the evaporator coils now has a much higher boiling point, and it boils again. This turns the vapor into heat and then passes it back to the outdoor unit in the compressor, where the high pressure again reduces its boiling point.

That’s how a heat pump works, but there is more to it than that. For example, the compressor also pressurizes the evaporator coil in the summer so that it cools your house. The evaporator and condenser coils also transfer heat to the home’s walls and insulation during the winter, which helps keep your house warmer.

Heat pumps are popular in most regions of the United States, but they’re most effective in moderate climates. In colder climates, they’re often combined with traditional furnaces for energy-efficient heating on the chilly days.

A professional Carrier dealer can evaluate your home’s needs and help you find the right system for your location. They can also explain the energy-efficient features that make heat pumps so cost-effective, such as INVERTER technology and zoning. Zoning lets you set different temperatures in different rooms, so your heat pump only runs when you need it.

Maintaining your heat pump properly optimizes its performance and longevity. Clean or replace its filters monthly and have a professional service technician inspect it once a year. Your local Carrier expert will be able to recommend additional ways to keep your heat pump running efficiently, such as installing a programmable thermostat and upgrading insulation. And be sure to ask about available rebates on sustainable heating and cooling upgrades.

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