As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll keep your San Antonio home warm this winter. While a typical furnace will certainly do the trick, more and more Texas homeowners are choosing to invest in heat pumps for their homes. However, are heat pumps really a good investment, or are they just a passing trend? To learn more about heat pumps, what they do, and whether or not you should invest in one, check out this guide from the pros at Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating.
Heat Pump Basics
A heat pump is a heating and cooling system with two main components: the compressor and the evaporator. The compressor sits outside your home and changes the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant that flows through a metal tube that carries the refrigerant into your home. Once inside, the refrigerant flows through an evaporator coil where it either absorbs or releases heat energy. After it exits the evaporator coil, the refrigerant cycles through the compressor again to correct its pressure and temperature readings. This cycle continues until your home reaches the desired interior temperature.
How Heat Pumps Work
Heat pumps rely on thermodynamics to move heat energy from one place to another. Since heat energy will always move from an area of greater concentration to an area of lesser concentration, a heat pump can control the temperature of the refrigerant so that it’s the opposite temperature of its current location. For example, if you need to heat your home, a heat pump has to move heat energy from outside your home to the home’s interior. To do this, it lowers the temperature of the refrigerant when it’s outside so that it can absorb heat energy from the air. Then, when it’s inside, this stored heat energy will release into the air in your home because the concentration of heat energy is lower in the indoor air than in the refrigerant.
Warm Versus Cold Climates
There’s one reason why Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating recommends heat pumps to most Texas homeowners: the warm climate. The mild winters in San Antonio make it much easier and more energy-efficient for a heat pump to capture heat energy outside and move it inside. A heat pump can still absorb heat energy from the air in colder climates. However, when the temperature dips below a certain level, the heat pump will have to go through regular defrost cycles to remove icy buildup from the refrigerant line. During these defrost cycles, a heat pump becomes much less efficient since it’s having to use an alternate heat source. Thanks to the warmer temperatures in Texas, though, you may be able to go an entire winter without a defrost cycle, meaning you’ll enjoy much lower energy bills.
Another great feature of heat pumps is that they aren’t only designed to provide comfort during the winter. In the summer, the heat pump can reverse the process by which it changes the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant. In other words, rather than absorbing heat energy from outside your home, the heat pump can absorb heat energy from inside your home and expel it outside. Thanks to the cold refrigerant temperatures inside, the metal coil in the evaporator will cause the humidity in the warm air to condense, meaning you will experience lower temperatures and lower humidity while the heat pump is running. Of course, there’s another name for a system that’s performing this process during the summer: an air conditioner. Heat pumps are simply air conditioners that can reverse the expansion and compression process.
Unlike a typical system that uses separate components for heating and cooling, a heat pump uses all of its components all year long. This means that the components in your heat pump can wear out more quickly, especially if they aren’t properly maintained. To help overcome this problem, Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating recommends bi-annual inspections of your heat pump to ensure you won’t have to worry about any system breakdowns that could make your home uncomfortable. Of particular concern during these inspections is the refrigerant line. Since refrigerant exists as a gas, it can leak through the smallest pinhole in the refrigerant line. Low refrigerant pressure will cause your heat pump to operate less efficiently. That’s why the technician will take extra care to inspect the refrigerant line and check the refrigerant pressure every time they stop by for maintenance.
Types of Heat Pumps
There are a few types of heat pumps that can help keep you and your family comfortable. The most common type of heat pump is the air-source heat pump. These heat pumps extract heat from the air and exist in two main types. A central heat pump is large enough to heat and cool an entire home and is connected to a system of ducts to provide conditioned air to the various rooms in your home. A ductless mini-split heat pump works just like its larger relative but doesn’t connect to any ducts. Instead, a ductless mini-split operates in a single room, providing heating and cooling to only that room. If you don’t have ducts in your home, a ductless mini-split can be a cost-effective way to keep your home comfortable.
Heat From the Ground
Another type of heat pump is what’s known as a ground-source heat pump. These devices are designed to heat and cool your entire home. Unlike an air-source heat pump, a ground-source heat pump pulls the heat energy to heat your home from the ground. To do this, a technician from Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating will install long tubes in your yard. Refrigerant runs through these tubes, exchanging heat energy the same way the above-ground tubes do. The main advantage of a ground-source heat pump is that it is exceptionally efficient. Since the temperature underground stays fairly constant, a ground-source heat pump can both heat and cool your home for a fraction of the cost of other types of heating and cooling systems. Although the up-front cost of these systems is higher, a homeowner who stays in their home for many years can recoup the higher cost through lower energy bills.
Whether you choose a ground-source heat pump or an air-source heat pump, the good news is that these systems can last a long time. When properly maintained, a heat pump can last more than 15 years. When it’s time to replace your heat pump, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the lower overall cost. Since there are fewer components to replace, your replacement costs will typically be lower than they would be if you had to replace your furnace and air conditioner individually.
Your Heat Pump Experts
At Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating, we work hard to ensure that our customers have the best comfort solutions for their needs. That’s why we offer furnace maintenance, air conditioner repair, air duct cleaning, duct repair, and much more. For over 30 years, residents in San Antonio have depended on Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating to provide top-notch service at a fair price. Our consistent commitment to integrity and excellence is one reason why we continually receive five-star customer reviews. To learn more about a heat pump for your home, contact us at Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating today.