A heat pump, as part of a central heating and cooling system, uses the outside air to both heat a home in winter and cool it in summer.
Technically, a heat pump is a mechanical-compression cycle refrigeration system that can be reversed to either heat or cool a controlled space. Installation for this type of system typically consists of two parts: an indoor unit called an air handler and an outdoor unit similar to a central air conditioner, but referred to as a heat pump. A compressor circulates refrigerant that absorbs and releases heat as it travels between the indoor and outdoor units.
HOW DOES A HEAT PUMP WORK?
Think of a heat pump as a heat transporter constantly moving warm air from one place to another, to where its needed or not needed, depending on the season. Even in air that's seems too cold, heat energy is present. When it's cold outside a heat pump extracts this outside heat and transfers it inside. When it’s warm outside, it reverses directions and acts like an air conditioner, removing heat from your home.
One advantage of a heat pump is that it moves heat instead of generating heat, giving you more energy efficiency. Also, it is powered by electricity, so you can save substantially on fuel consumption.
Note that heat pumps are best for moderate climates, and a supplemental heating source may be needed for lower temperatures.
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Coleman Heat Pump - Consumer Rated 2015 Most Efficient System