Common Questions About Heat Pumps in Cary, NC – Part 1

If you're not a professional contractor or HVAC technician, anything HVAC related in Cary, NC might seem a little bit confusing. For example, do you understand that there is a difference between a heat pump and a traditional HVAC unit? Even if you do, you likely have a lot of questions about your heat pump, how it works and when it needs repair. With that in mind, today we'll walk you through common questions you may have about your heat pump in Cary, NC.

1. What is a heat pump? 

A heat pump typically looks almost identical to your HVAC unit. In fact, many people call their heat pumps - central air conditioners. If you are one of those people, you're not that far off. An HVAC heat pump is almost identical to an air conditioner except that a heat pump provides both cooling and heating. A heat pump transfers heat, either into your home or out of it, depending on the time of year.

2. How does a heat pump work? 

First, let's take a step back and understand that an air conditioner doesn’t actually cool your home. An air conditioner pulls heat out of your home with a refrigerant line connecting the indoor blower unit and outside condenser unit. So, here's what happens:

  1. The refrigerant (also known as freon) is cooled by the condenser unit.
  2. Freon is then pumped into the evaporator coils in the blower unit.
  3. As air from your home enters the blower unit, it passes over the evaporator coils, and the heat from the air is pulled into the refrigerant line.
  4. The air is sent back into the home through the ducts. While you feel cool air, it's not because cold air is added to the air, it's because the heat has been pulled out.
  5. Refrigerant is pumped back to the condenser to be cooled again.

In heating mode, the process is reversed. The heat from the outside air is used to warm the refrigerant. When the refrigerant is pumped inside, that heat is transferred into the air running through the blower unit to produce warm air.

3. When should you use a heat pump?

Heat pumps are ideal for areas with hot summers and mild winters, and that makes them perfect for the Cary, NC and surrounding areas.

When in cooling mode, heat pumps have nearly the same efficiency as a dedicated central air conditioning unit. However, in heating mode, a heat pump doesn’t perform nearly as efficiently as other heating systems. Because heat pumps are designed to warm your home by pulling heat from the outside air, they will quickly lose efficiency as outdoor temperature drops.

That said, heat pumps will usually provide the greatest overall savings for a Cary, NC home. Our winters are relatively mild, so heating efficiency loss has a minimal impact on total energy costs. Considering that any efficiency gains from using separate heating and cooling systems would be quickly wiped away by the extra installation and maintenance costs, we don't know that it'd be worth it to purchase two separate systems.

4. What does SEER and HSPF mean?

SEER is an acronym that stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. This setting makes sure your heat pump is cooling at an efficient rate. HSPF stands for Heating Season Performance Factor and makes sure that your heat pump is working to heat your home.

5. How much does a heat pump cost?

The cost of a heat pump depends on a number of factors: the model you choose, the size of your home, installation costs, as well as a few other factors that we can discuss. Call CHOICE Heating & Air Conditioning to ask us about the cost of our heat pumps and heat pump installation.

6. How long do heat pumps typically last?

While heat pumps typically last between 10 and 15 years, the lifespan of your heat pump will vary based on a few factors including how often you use your heat pump, when it was manufactured, and how often it is maintained. If you've had your heat pump serviced annually and taken good care of it, you should be able to maximize it's lifetime.

If you have any questions or need help servicing your heat pump, call Choice HVAC in Cary, NC. 

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