A heat pump is like an air conditioner, except it can run in reverse. On a hot day, a heat pump does the exact same job you expect from an AC. It removes heat from inside the house and then exhausts it outside. If you’ve ever stood beside the condenser unit of your air conditioner when it’s running, you’ll know the feeling of hot air blowing from it. The same thing happens with a heat pump when in cooling mode. On a cold day, a heat pump switches the way the process works: it removes heat from outside and then blows it into the house.
“Hey, wait a minute…” We can hear the gears in your mind working. Something about this process doesn’t make sense. A heat pump in heating mode is drawing its heat energy from outdoors. But … you only need to run the heat pump in heating mode when it’s cold outside. Where is that heat coming from?
A Heat Pump Always Has Some Heat to Use
Don’t worry if you feel a bit confused about what’s happening here. Many people find the idea of drawing heat from cold winter air to be counterintuitive. But no matter how cold it feels outside, there is always some heat present. The less heat in the air, the colder the air. But it is impossible for the air to have no heat at all. This temperature is known as absolute zero, and it’s only theoretical. In order to lower the temperature outside to reach absolute zero, the heat must move to somewhere else that’s colder—and there’s nothing colder than absolute zero, so that won’t happen. (Also, absolute zero is –459.67°F, and you’d have much bigger problems than keeping your house warm if that ever happened.)
In Florida, a Heat Pump Rarely Has Trouble
So there’s always outdoor heat for a heat pump to draw on for indoor warmth. But extreme cold temperatures do make it tougher for a heat pump to access that heat. If the outdoor temperature drops below freezing, a heat pump will still be able to provide warmth to the house, but it will lose energy efficiency as it expends more power to absorb the heat through its outdoor coil.
And this is one of the reasons why a heat pump installation in Tampa, FL is such a good idea. Although we can experience some chilly days during winter, it almost never gets cold enough that a heat pump would have trouble. Our climate is ideal for a heat pump: it’s a powerful cooling system to handle the hot summers, and it can stay efficient enough as a heater during the mild winters. Heat pumps often use less electricity to run in heating mode than an electric furnace, making them potential money-savers.
If you’re interested in getting a heat pump to replace your current AC and heater, talk to our pros. We’ll help you find out if a heat pump is the best choice for your year-round comfort.