By Alison Cole
A heat pump is an electric cooling and heating system used to compress and decompress gas to heat or cool a house. This mechanical device pumps heat from a cooler to a warmer location and can extract heat from air, water or the earth. Heat pumps functions like an air conditioner in the summer and an electric furnace in the winter, thus encompassing both a heating and cooling unit in one device. The COP, or coefficient of performance, which calculates the ratio of heat output to electric power consumption, measures the performance of a heat pump.
Heat pumps are the most resourceful form of electric heating in moderate climates, and cool a house by collecting the heat inside the house and effectively pumping it outside. There are three types of heat pumps that one can install: air-to-air, water source and ground source. Heat pumps can collect heat from air, water or ground and can utilize the same to heat or cool your home. When installing a heat pump at home, one should consider using an energy-efficient heat pump system, keeping in mind the climate of the region.
For instance, air source heat pumps are a good option for mild and moderate climate regions, and ground source or geothermal heat pumps are efficient in climates with similar heating and cooling loads. The most common types of heat pumps are the air-source and ground-source heat pumps. Although ground source heat pumps are more expensive to install, they are more efficient and less noisy.
However, to make heat pumps work efficiently, they should be installed properly, and one should choose the right sized pump that can fulfill the heating and cooling demands of the house. While selecting a heat pump one should buy a device with a higher Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, or HSPF. The pumps should also be fitted with demand-defrost control, which minimizes the defrost cycles and reduces supplementary and heat pump energy use.
Heat pumps are much more cost-effective then other conventional heating devices, and are also becoming more commonly used to heat swimming pools, and hot water for household use.
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