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Heat Pump Basics

Can I add a heat pump if I already have a primary heating system?

Absolutely! The flexibility and relatively low cost of air-source heat pump installation makes adding one to an existing heating system a great way to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is achieved by reducing the heating load on the primary heating system, which lowers fuel oil consumption, saving you money on your oil bill and keeping greenhouse gasses out of the environment. There are many varieties of heat pumps that serve different applications and personal preference. They can be easily retrofitted to any home big or small. The cost-savings achieved when a heat pump takes the heating load off your existing oil boiler or furnace can quickly pay for the initial cost of the installation. 

How does a heat pump work?

A heat pump works by extracting heat from outside your home and moving it inside where you want it. Even when temperatures are low, heat pumps can collect heat from the surrounding environment and move that heat indoors to keep you comfortable all year long. This seemingly magical process is accomplished by simultaneous evaporation and condensation of a refrigerant within a closed loop. When the refrigerant evaporates, heat is drawn into the system. The evaporated refrigerant flows through pipes to an indoor unit where the pressure in the system increases until the refrigerant turns back into a liquid, which releases heat into the air in your home. In a way, the heat is squeezed back out of the refrigerant once it is inside. New refrigerants and recent advancements in compressor technology have allowed heat pumps to operate with higher efficiencies and in colder environments.

Do heat pumps operate efficiently?

Heat pumps are very energy efficient.  This is because they only use a small amount of electricity to run a compressor and small fans. This small energy input is used to move existing heat from one place to another rather than generate it from scratch. Taking advantage of heat that is already present in the surrounding environment is much more efficient than trying to generate heat through inefficient burning  of fossil fuels. 

To learn more about heat pumps and other ways to become more energy efficient, check out renewablejuneau.org