Saving Energy With A Heat Pump

Installing a heat pump could be a smart way to save energy and money on heating your facility. Unlike other types of heating systems which produce heat, a heat pump is able to extract enough heat from outside to use in heating your facility.

How It Works

The heat pump operates on the principle that heat can be transferred by a cycle of alternating vaporization and condensation much like an air conditioner or refrigerator. When a liquid vaporizes, heat is absorbed, and when a gas is condensed, heat is released. By using a liquid with a very low boiling point called a refrigerant, and by alternately pressurizing and depressurizing this refrigerant, the heat pump can absorb heat from a relatively cool environment and transfer it to a warmer one.

The outdoor unit of a heat pump contains coils of refrigerant which absorbs heat from outside. Even where the outdoor air temperature may be as low as 17°, the refrigerant is much cooler and is able to absorb heat. As it begins to absorb heat, the refrigerant evaporates, absorbing even greater quantities of heat. The refrigerant passes through the coils and then on to the compressor where it is pressurized. This process increases the temperature and condensing point of the refrigerant so that it is now hotter than the inside air. The heated refrigerant then travels to coils in the conditioned space. As a fan blows across the coils, the refrigerant is cooled, causing it to condense and release heat into the surrounding air.

The heat pump can also be used to cool your facility in the same manner. Simply switching the heat pump from a heating mode to a cooling mode reversed the valves that control the process. So instead of extracting heat from outdoors, the heat pump will remove heat from indoors. Larger heat pumps automatically reverse from the heating to cooling mode whenever the interior thermostat requires. Smaller units may require manual changing.

When to Use the Heat Pump

The heat pump is a very effective energy-saver. However, may not be efficient for all locations. Typically, the heat pump is most efficient in climates which have a relatively moderate heating season. In areas where the temperatures fall well below 30°, the heat pump will often require the support of a back-up heating source.