For residents of Cincinnati, a common, pressing question is – heat pump or furnace? Whether you’re building or upgrading your entire heating and cooling system, it’s important to weigh your options and consider the benefits and drawbacks of both.
If you’re wondering do heat pumps work in Cincinnati, here’s what you need to know.
What is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a part of a heating and cooling system that’s installed inside the home. Like an air conditioner, it can cool, but it’s also capable of providing heat.
Contrary to popular belief, heat pumps don’t create heat. They redistribute heat from the air around the home and use a refrigerant that circulates between the air handler and the compressor.
Because it relies on the outside temperature, a heat pump is more common in milder climates where the temperatures don’t get below freezing. In cold areas, they may be combined with furnaces for energy-efficient heating on every day but the freezing cold days. If the temperature drops too low for the heat pump to operate effectively, the system will use the furnace to generate heat.
How Does a Heat Pump Work?
It’s important to realize that a heat pump relies on a natural process. Hot air naturally flows from areas with heat and high pressure to areas with cool air and low pressure. A heat pump capitalizes on this natural process for heating and cooling.
It’s a straightforward setup with two primary components: an outdoor unit and an indoor air handler unit, both with their own sub-components.
The outdoor unit uses a coil and a fan. The coil acts like a condenser or an evaporator, depending on whether it’s in cooling mode or heating mode. The fan transfers the air across the coil for the heat exchange.
The indoor unit is similar and uses a coil or fan. The coil also acts as an evaporator or a condenser, depending on the mode. The fan then moves the air across the coil and through the ducts to heat your home.
The refrigerant is a component that’s necessary to facilitate the heat exchange. It absorbs and rejects hot air as it circulates through the heat pump, and the compressor pressurizes the refrigerant to circulate it through the system.
There’s also a reversing valve, which reverses the flow of refrigerant to allow the system to work in both directions – indoor to outdoor and outdoor to indoor.
The expansion valve is a metering device that regulates the flow of the refrigerant in the system and lowers its temperature and pressure.
In cooling mode, the heat pump allows the hot air to find its way to the cooler and lower pressure environment. In heating mode, the process is similar, but the reversing valve allows the flow of the refrigerant to reverse. This is how the heating source becomes the outdoor air. This simple process is what makes a heat pump so efficient.
Advantages of a Heat Pump in Cincinnati
If you’re looking to replace your heating and cooling system, a heat pump is an excellent choice. Perhaps you’ve purchased a home with an older air conditioner but a newer furnace that’s inefficient, or you have one component that’s nearing the end of its lifespan.
If the furnace is a low quality or has an AFUE of 80 or below, you may be better off replacing the entire system, especially if it hasn’t been maintained well or the warranty expired.
In general, a heat pump is energy efficient and has lower operation costs. They’re quieter and less expensive to install as well. Because there isn’t fuel combustion like a gas furnace, you don’t need to worry about gas leaks or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Areas with cold weather tend to have fewer heat pumps. Though excellent at both heating and cooling, they rely on the outdoor air to warm your home. If the air is too cold, they lose efficiency.
Fortunately, Cincinnati has a moderate winter climate. A heat pump should be more than enough for the cold weather, as long as it’s maintained well.
Disadvantages of Heat Pump in Cincinnati
Cincinnati can have periods of really cold weather, however. In this situation, a furnace is far superior at heating rooms quickly and keeping them cozy. If you prefer to have heat on demand and not worry about chilly air on an occasional subzero day, the furnace may be the better choice.
Still, you’re paying more for a furnace in utility bills. Worse yet, if your furnace isn’t properly sized, you may struggle with low efficiency or uneven temperatures between rooms. It’s important to consider what’s important to you in choosing between a furnace or a heat pump for your Cincinnati home.
Wondering about the best fit for your home? Contact HELP to schedule an appointment for your HVAC needs.
The information on this website is for informational purposes only; it is deemed accurate but not guaranteed. It does not constitute professional advice. All information is subject to change at any time without notice. Contact us for complete details.