The hot days of summer are just around the corner and ironically the time is right to install an air source heat pump in your home. This may sound a bit odd as the “heat” pump is typically equated with winter and keeping our homes warm and comfortable.
The truth is that air source heat pumps are actually ingenious air conditioning systems with the capacity to provide cost effective heat to your home in the winter.
Air source heat pumps are made up of two main parts: an indoor unit integrated into your furnace called an air handler in combination with an outdoor condenser unit. The two units are connected by copper lines containing Freon gas which has a huge capacity to absorb heat energy. Here’s how they work:
In summer – When cooling is required to make your home more comfortable the coil system is used to absorb or extract heat from the air inside the home and then discharge it outside. A simple way to visualize the process is to think of your home in terms of your refrigerator. When you hear your fridge “running” a small compressor and coil are working to extract heat from inside your fridge. This creates a cool or cold environment that will keep food and drink cold and fresh. In this refrigerator example the extracted heat is simply exhausted out the back.
In winter – When you require heat in your home, the system is in effect run in reverse. Heat is extracted from the outside environment and is effectively exhausted back into your home. In heating mode things truly get interesting, as the heat pump really shines in terms of significant energy savings. The system is able to extract free heat energy from the outside air, instead of from the consumption of gas, oil, or electricity. While electricity is required to run the compressor and air handler, the heat pump is able to extract as much as 3 times more thermal energy from the outside air than the energy required to run the heat pump. Maximum efficiencies are realized in the fall and spring under cool outside temperatures. As temperatures dip below -10 degrees Celsius your furnace will begin to supply any additional demand for heat in the home and energy saving will be slightly diminished.
Without a doubt, air source heat pumps are incredibly efficient. In fact, they are so efficient that their installation can elevate a BuiltGreen™ home - a third-party certification program for homes that are environmentally responsible – that is Gold rated to Platinum status. In addition, the Government of BC is currently offering rebates and grants through their Live Smart BC: Efficiency Incentive Program for installation of air source heat pumps.
So if you are looking to cool your home this summer with the added benefit of winter energy savings the installation of an air source heat pump may be just what you need.
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