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What Are Heat Pumps?

heat-pump-los-angelesFor many decades, the standard heating and cooling set-up for homes was a combination of an air conditioner and a furnace in the same cabinet, sharing a blower fan to send conditioned air into a network of ducts and to the various vents around the home. This is still the method that most homes use for comfort. But another option has come along that many homes have adopted: the heat pump.

The Heat Pump Explained

A heat pump is similar to an air conditioning system. In fact, it’s more accurate to say that an air conditioner is a type of heat pump, although this can lead to some confusion. It’s easier to understand by thinking of a heat pump as an air conditioner that can also run “backwards.”

What does that actually mean? Imagine for a moment how an air conditioner runs. It circulates refrigerant between two sets of coils, one indoors and one outdoors. The refrigerant absorbs heat through the indoor coil by evaporating, cooling down the air around the coil which the blower fan then sends into the various parts of the house. The refrigerant releases heat through the outdoor coil by condensing. (I.e. it’s “pumping” heat out of the house.)

Now imagine that an air conditioner can move refrigerant in the opposite direction. Now it absorbs heat from the outside through evaporation, and then releases the heat indoors through condensation. The two coils have swapped jobs, and the AC is now “pumping” heat from outside to the inside. Voila, the air conditioner is now working as a heating system!

This is what a heat pump does: it uses the action of an air conditioner and adds the ability to alter the refrigerant direction with a special valve. With only a single adjustment, a heat pump can change from working as a powerful cooling system to an energy-efficient heating system.

A heat pump is an excellent choice for homes that are looking for ways to cut down on energy costs during a mild So. Cal winter. A heat pump isn’t ideal for all homes, but it’s definitely worth investigating when you are planning on new HVAC installation.

Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical offers heat pump installation and replacement in Studio City, CA and throughout Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley. Call our friendly technicians 24/7 for exceptional customer service!

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