Are Heat Pumps Better for the Environment?

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There was a time not too long ago that words “heat pump” and “environmentally friendly” did not go together at all. Heat pumps had a reputation for being terrible for the environment and for being a horribly inefficient way to heat and cool your home. All this has changed, however, thanks to government requirements for heat pump efficiency. The heat pump manufacturers have long since met these government regulations and surpassed them. These days, heat pumps are known as the environmentally friendly choice for home owners. How have things changed so much? Much of it comes down to how heat pumps work.

First, consider how central heating and cool systems function. They take air and then heat it or cool it to the temperature you require based on the temp you have set your thermostat at. The systems require an energy source to get this job done. That means your central heating or cooling system needs the energy from your electric system or gas/natural heat system – sometimes both. It comes as no surprise to anyone with one of these systems that the energy used is significant. Running your heating and your air conditioning can increase your power bill by hundreds of dollars every month. In addition to being a drain on your wallet, these central systems and the energy that they use are a drain on the environment.

Now, consider heat pump technology. Heat pumps do not use energy to heat or cool air to any temperature. Rather, they simply shuffle air back and further. During the winter, heat pumps take the warm air from outside – and even if you can’t feel it, there is hot air in the air on the coldest days – and it pumps that warm air into your home until the thermostat reaches your desired temperature. During the summer, a heat pump works in reverse. The pump takes the warm air from inside of your house and pumps it outside, until the internal temperature reaches the desired level of coolness. Because the heat pump is not heating or cooling anything using electricity or gas, the energy operating costs are much lower. And because less energy is used, the impact of running a heat pump is far less on the environment than running a central heating or cooling system.

All heat pumps are not created equal, however. If you live in an older home and your heat pump predates the government regulations, then it still may be terribly inefficient. Even new heat pumps can vary greatly in terms of their effectiveness. Also, heat pumps are not efficient in climates with extreme temperature swings.

All things considered, however, heat pumps are ideal solutions for environmentally friendly heating and cooling.

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