Heat Pump Heat: Homeowner's Guide

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August 22, 2019


heat pump heatWhile heat pump heat is reliable and efficient, it’s also versatile. Unlike a standard gas-fired or electric furnace, a heat pump can generate comfortable warmth in several modes. While extreme temperature conditions may affect system performance, this is increasingly uncommon as today’s new heat pumps are more efficient to produce adequate heat—even if temperatures outside fall well below freezing. Here are three heating modes that ensure your home stays comfortable no matter what the outdoor conditions may be.

Standard Heat

This is the heating mode under normal conditions. A heat pump in standard heating mode is like an air conditioner—except running backwards. Instead of extracting indoor heat and moving it outdoors to cool the house, a heat pump in standard mode absorbs latent heat energy present in cold outdoor air, concentrates it with a compressor, then circulates the warmth indoors through household ductwork. No combustion of fuel such as natural gas or oil is involved.

Supplemental Heat

In the event temperatures plunge into the very frigid range, a heat pump may rely on additional sources to augment system heating performance. Typically, this will be electric resistance coils, much like those in a standard electric furnace, located in the indoor air handler. This supplemental source activates automatically and only until outdoor temperatures rise enough to provide adequate latent heat energy. Other secondary sources that may be utilized include a conventional gas-fired auxiliary furnace or even hydronic coils that circulate hot water and release warmth into the system airflow.

Emergency Heat

This mode is selected only in cases where a vital system component has failed. All other system functions are shut down and emergency heat is activated to carry the home’s heating load until repairs are made by a qualified HVAC service technician. Because emergency mode typically utilizes electrical resistance coils to generate heat, it should be utilized only as a temporary alternative. Excessive reliance on electric heat will increase monthly operating costs noticeably.

For more information about the advantages and reliability of heat pump heat, contact Hartman Brothers.

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