Heat Pumps

If you are looking to stop burning fossil fuels in your home, you may want to consider Heat Pumps as an option. Heat pumps are a combustion- free technology used for heating and cooling buildings through both the cold winter months and hot summer months. They use electricity and refrigerants, instead of combustion, to create transfer heat between indoors and outdoors.     

What are heat pumps?

At the most basic level, a heat pump is defined as something that transfers heat from a colder area to a hotter area using mechanical energy. Refrigerators use this same technology. In this context we are referring to 

How do they work?

They work using the same basic mechanical technology as the refrigerator in your home. One main difference is that heat pumps used for air heating are a reversible technology that can be set to a heating mode and cooling mode as well. Heat pumps used to as hot water heaters use this same technology.

What are the main types of heat pumps?

Geothermal- Heat pumps that use the ground temperature as a source or sink for heat.

Air Source- Heat pump systems that use the outside air as a source or sink for heat

Heat Pump Water Heater- Heat pump systems that are used to heat hot water. Although you can tie a hot water heater into your geothermal system, these appliances typically use air source as their heat source/ sink.

What are the main components of a heat pump?

Though there are many types of heat pumps, all air heating systems contain at least one head. The head is the name for the component inside your living space that distributes the hot or cold air. It is typically a white rectangular shape. The heat pump also requires an outdoor component which contains the compressor, condensing coil, reversing valve, as well as electrical components. Geothermal heat pumps also require coils that need to be put into the ground around your home to be installed. 

Sometimes Heat Pumps are called a "renewable" form of heating and cooling, what does that really mean?

It is true that Heat Pumps are often referred to as renewable heating and cooling. The carbon impact of Heat Pumps depends entirely on where the electricity used to power it comes from. This technology does not require the combustion of fossil fuels in order to function. If you power your heat pump with home solar, for example, you can have a entirely net zero emissions for your system.

Additional resources

To find our brochure on Heat Pumps click here: Heat Pump Brochure

To read about Heat Pumps on the Department of Energy's website click here: Department of Energy Website

For information about the local Heat Smart Tompkins Campaign click here: Heat Smart Tompkins

Last updated December 13, 2018