The change in the seasons is often a time when homeowners start evaluating their home’s HVAC and electrical systems. If you’re dealing with an older or inefficient system and considering an update, a heat pump may come up as an option.
But is a heat pump a good choice for California? Do heat pumps work in San Diego? Fortunately, the warm climate of San Diego is the ideal situation for a heat pump.
What is a Heat Pump?
Even though the name implies that heat pumps actually pump heat into the home, that’s not their only purpose. Heat pumps can be used for cooling in the summer as well.
Basically, a heat pump moves heat in one direction or the other. In cold weather, it pulls the heat inside your home to keep it warm. In hot weather, it pulls the heat outside from the interior of your home to cool it down. This simple system can perform these tasks efficiently and save you tons of your energy bills.
How Does a Heat Pump Work?
A heat pump is a simple device with two major components – an outdoor unit and an indoor air handler unit. Both units have sub-components.
The outdoor unit has a coil and fan. The coil acts as a condenser in cooling mode or an evaporator in heating mode. The fan blows air across the coil for the heat exchange.
The indoor unit is similar to the outdoor unit and contains a coil and a fan. The coil acts as an evaporator in cooling mode or a condenser in heating mode, and the fan moves the air across the coil and through the ducts in your home.
The refrigerant absorbs and rejects heat as it circulates throughout the heat pump, and the compressor pressurizes the refrigerant and circulates it throughout the system.
There’s also a reversing valve, which is the key part of the heat pump. This part reverses the flow of refrigerant to allow the system to operate in both directions – indoor to outdoor cooling and outdoor to indoor heating – and switch between both modes.
The expansion valve is a metering device that regulates the flow of refrigerant in the system. This reduces the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant.
Heat energy naturally wants to move from an area with hot air and high pressure to one with cool air and lower pressure. A heat pump takes advantage of this fact and relies on the natural movement by putting heat in contact with the cool, low-pressure environment, encouraging a transfer. This is how a heat pump works in cooling mode.
Advantages of a Heat Pump in San Diego
Southern California is an ideal environment for heat pumps. Because they operate similarly to an air conditioning system and circulate refrigerant by compressor to pump heat from one place to another, they take advantage of the moderate climate of the region.
The difference between an air conditioner and a heat pump is that an air conditioner pumps heat from inside the house to outside to cool it. With a heat pump, the air can transfer in any direction to heat or cool your home. Installing a heat pump helps your home’s comfort and energy with just one unit, rather than a full heating and air conditioning unit.
Heat pumps are an excellent option for San Diego, in particular, because they’re strong and energy efficient. In extremely cold temperatures, a heat pump may suffer from poor efficiency and lack the necessary outdoor heat to provide adequate heating.
This area gets a lot of warm, sunny days, and the heat pump can absorb heat from the outside to provide heating during cool seasons.
Disadvantages of Heat Pump in San Diego
A heat pump isn’t the best choice for every climate or configuration, however. If you already have a natural gas-powered furnace that provides heat to your home, it’s better to choose a furnace and air conditioner. Buying a heat pump just to handle cooling is expensive, and you’re missing out on half of its capabilities.
Heat pumps also have high upfront costs for purchase and installation, which is paid off in lower utility bills year-round. It’s less expensive to buy an air conditioner if you’re not replacing your entire heating system.
Looking to upgrade your San Diego home’s heating and air conditioning? Schedule an appointment with ASI!