How Do Heat Pumps Work in the Summer?

March 8, 2013

Just as water flows downhill, heat naturally flows from warm areas into cooler areas. Much like a water pump can be used to force water to move in a vertical direction, heat pumps can move heat against its natural flow. While it may seem incongruous that a device with the word “heat” in it is used for cooling, it’s a technology that’s been used for just that purpose in homes all over America for nearly a century. Your household refrigerator operates on heat-pump technology, extracting heat from inside the unit and moving it outside. Today’s heat pumps are currently the most energy-efficient and cost-effective way to heat and cool your home, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

How Heat Pumps Work 

Like conventional air conditioners, heat pumps use refrigerant to move heat from one spot to another. As the refrigerant loops through the system, it changes from a hot liquid into a cooled gas. As it evaporates into gas, the refrigerant extracts heat from the surrounding air and moves it outside your home. The cooled, conditioned air is distributed throughout your home, and household air is returned to the evaporator to continue the cycle.

Design Options

Most pumps are engineered with a reverse-operation technology that allows them to cool your Hanahan, SC home in the summer and heat it in the winter. The two most common types of pumps are air-source and ground-source pumps, also called geothermal pumps. Both operate on the same principle, moving heat from one location to another.

  • Air-Source Pumps. In the winter, air-source pumps extract and condense heat from the air outside and move it indoors. They’re surprisingly effective at pulling heat from outdoor air, even in temperatures as low as 30 degree Fahrenheit. During the summer, the system simply moves the heat drawn during the refrigerant cycle outdoors.
  • Ground-Source (Geothermal) Pumps. Beneath the surface of the earth, solar radiation keeps the temperature of the soil at a relatively constant 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter, geothermal pumps use this reliable heat source to provide heated air to forced-air heating systems or heated liquid to radiant and hydronic heating systems. In the summer, the pumps use the earth as a heat sink.

Cost-Saving Solutions

According to the EPA, air-source pumps can cut heating costs in the winter by up to 40 percent. Geothermal pumps are even more cost-effective, operating at up to 70 percent higher efficiency than conventional heaters. In the summer, ground-source pumps are twice as efficient as the industry’s top-rated air conditioners. Because they use a renewable energy source, geothermal pumps also qualify for a generous federal tax credit that can pay for up to 30 percent of the installation costs.

Serving the Hanahan, SC community for over 50 years, Berkeley Heating is pleased to bring you HVAC solutions that save you money while enhancing your comfort. As a factory authorized dealer for Carrier, an industry leader in air- and ground-source pumps, we’re proud to offer products with a proven reputation for keeping you cool in the heat of summer.

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