Have you been considering purchasing a heat pump for your home but aren’t sure how well it will work in Arizona’s climate? If so, we have great news for you. Heat pumps are an efficient and cost-effective way to provide heating and cooling to your home. Although they can be used in most climates, they work especially well at providing heating in places like Arizona that experience milder winters. Not only that, but they can also provide effective cooling even on those days when the temperature is well above 100 degrees. With this in mind, here is everything you need to know about heat pumps and why they are such an effective option to keep your home heated and cooled.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a type of HVAC equipment that draws heat directly out of the environment to provide heating and cooling. The most common type is an air-source heat pump, which draws heat out of the air. There are also ground-source or geothermal heat pumps that transfer heat from the ground into the home. Although we will focus primarily on air-source heat pumps here, keep in mind that the two essentially work on the same set of principles.
Heat pumps work based on the second law of thermodynamics, which essentially states that heat will always flow from a high-temperature area to a colder area. Basically, this means that they work by drawing hot air out of your home to keep it cool or transferring warm air from outside into the building to provide heating. To do this, the heat pump uses evaporator coils that transfer heat from the air inside or outside the building. These coils are filled with either heated or cooled refrigerant that can efficiently capture heat from both hot and cold air.
When providing cooling, the system draws hot air from inside your home over the cold refrigerant coils to capture the heat and transfer it outside the building. This works to keep the home cool by ensuring that the air coming out of the air handler is much colder than the air entering the system. With this type of system, the condenser unit outside the house provides a steady supply of cooled refrigerant and transferring the heat from inside to outside. This is also the same way that traditional air conditioners work. However, the difference is that a heat pump can reverse the process to provide heating in addition to cooling.
To provide heating, the heat pump captures warmth from the air outside and transfers it into the building. The heat from outside warms the refrigerant. This heated refrigerant is then transferred to the air handler, which forces cold air over the refrigerant coils to heat the air.
Because of the laws of thermodynamics, this process always works as long as the refrigerant is colder than the temperature outside. Heat pump systems have been proven to work at temperatures as low as -4 degrees. The efficiency of the system decreases the colder the outside temperature is, which is why heat pumps are usually only recommended in places like Arizona that rarely experience extreme cold.
Types of Heat Pump Systems
Traditional heat pump systems work similarly to conventional furnaces and AC units in that they use a system of ductwork to circulate the heated or cooled air throughout your home. However, there are also ductless heat pump systems that provide heating and cooling for one room or several zones in your home. Choosing between the two usually comes down to the design of your home and your specific goals.
If your home has existing ductwork, a traditional heat pump system is usually the better choice. However, if your home doesn’t have ductwork or you’re simply looking to supplement your heating or cooling, then a ductless system is definitely the way to go. The other reason to consider a ductless system is that they are more energy efficient. Because these systems don’t use ductwork, they don’t suffer from issues with air leaks and heat loss/gain that can contribute to increased energy use in ducted systems.
Comparing the Efficiency of Heat Pumps and Traditional HVAC Systems
Heat pumps are one of the most efficient ways of heating and cooling your home. As they work in essentially the same way as a traditional air conditioner, heat pumps and AC units are fairly even in terms of efficiency. The efficiency of heat pumps and AC units is measured in terms of SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), which makes the two easy to compare. Basically, if a heat pump and an AC unit have the same SEER rating, it means that they will use the same amount of energy to cool your home under ideal conditions.
The thing that makes heat pumps different is that they provide both heating and cooling from one unit instead of requiring a separate furnace and air conditioner. This makes them much more cost effective in terms of initial costs. As well, heat pumps are far more energy efficient than furnaces in areas where the weather never gets too cold. As long as the temperature doesn’t drop much below 20 to 25 degrees, a heat pump will provide just as much heating as a furnace would while only using a fraction of the energy.
The highest-efficiency furnaces still only have an efficiency rating of around 95%. This means that it converts 95% of the energy it uses into heat. A heat pump can convert as much as 300% of the energy it consumes into heat, which means it produces three times more energy than it uses. This efficiency can greatly decrease as the temperature outside gets colder. Still, heat pumps are by far the more efficient heating option in Arizona because of the milder winters. Another advantage is that heat pumps only rely on electricity, whereas traditional furnaces usually use both electricity and natural gas or another fuel source.
Ductless systems are also far superior to traditional HVAC systems in terms of efficiency. The actual efficiency rating will depend in part on the type of system you use and the size of your home. Most ductless systems will use anywhere from 25% to 50% less energy than traditional furnaces and air conditioners.
Expert Heating and Cooling Solutions
If you’re considering a heat pump for your Scottsdale home, AC by J is here to help. Our expert technicians will work to determine your home’s heating and cooling requirements and help you select a heat pump that meets your needs as efficiently as possible. We specialize in heat pump maintenance, repair and installation, and we carry a range of highly efficient equipment from top brands. Our team also works on all makes and models of furnaces and air conditioners, geothermal systems and ductless systems. We also have a team of licensed plumbers that can take care of any plumbing repairs, maintenance or installation tasks. If you have questions about heat pumps or any of the other services we offer, contact AC by J in AZ today.