Heat Pumps 101: Everything Homeowners Need To Know To Upgrade To A New System

If your old heating and cooling systems need to be replaced this year, heat pumps are an efficient option that offer homeowners a high return on investment. With the ability to move heat instead of using a combustible fuel, a heat pump will provide you with a two-in-one cooling and heating system, ensuring high energy savings and the ultimate in home comfort, too.

How it works

Heat pumps basically operate using the principles of refrigeration, moving heat from one space to another, either into or out of your home.

In the summer, the heat pump extracts hot air from inside your home and routes it to the outside. During winter, the system sources heat from the outside air, and moves it into your home.

Before becoming familiar with how heat pumps work, it can be difficult to imagine how a heat pump can find “heat” in cold winter air. But this is the genius of the heat pump system: Even in colder outdoor temperatures, a heat pump can judiciously find heat in the air, as long as the temperature is above 35 degrees or so, to be used for heating your home. When the temperature falls below this point, the heat pump uses its backup heating system.


Heat pumps are known to be extremely efficient heating systems, and they perform well as a cooling system too. It is because heat pumps don't have to generate heat from scratch, much like a gas furnace that operates on combustion, that they can perform well.

In fact, Energy Savers estimates that in heating mode homeowners can get up to $4 worth of heating for every $1 they spend on energy to power the unit. And while heat pumps generally don't perform quite this well in cooling mode, it is possible to select a heat pump with a higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) number than a standard air conditioner, depending on the manufacturer and model.

When selecting a heat pump, you'll want to investigate two efficiency ratings: SEER for the unit's cooling performance, and heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) for the unit's heating capabilities. To maximize the potential of your new system, selecting a high-efficiency system will produce the highest energy savings and comfort possible. These systems will generally have a SEER rating starting at 16 and an HSPF rating starting at 8.

Advanced features

Today's heat pumps have earned their stellar reputation for efficiency in part due to the features that are now utilized to increase both heating and cooling efficiency. These features include:

  • A two-stage compressor, which provides two stages of cooling for your home. In this way, the unit will generally operate at the lower speed for about 80 percent of the time, using less energy to run and reducing wear and tear on the compressor. Then, it will move into the higher speed during the hottest times of the day and/or season.
  • Improved coils, whose design can include advancements such as grooves in the tubing to increase the overall surface area through which refrigerant can move
  • Thermostatic expansion valves (TXV), which operate much like the two-stage compressor. The TXV will open to allow more refrigerant during hotter weather, and close to limit refrigerant during milder conditions.
  • Variable-speed air handler, which runs at multiple speeds to meet the home's airflow needs, saving energy and reducing wear and tear


One of the unintentionally best-kept secrets about heat pumps is their comfort factor. If you've lived in a home with a forced-air system, you're familiar with the strong blasts of hot and cold air they produce — and the resulting significant differences in temperatures when the system is and isn't running. Heat pumps in general tend to run all day long, emitting lower amounts of conditioned air throughout a 24-hour period. As a result, homeowners who use them report that their ability to deliver an even, consistent heating and cooling produces the most comfortable home possible.

Why not investigate the ultimate heating and cooling system when upgrading? Heat pumps deserve more than a second look. To ensure the maximum return on your investment, and to provide lasting comfort for many years to come, contact the experts at Conroe Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration today for more information about heat pumps. Serving Conroe and Montgomery County, we’re always happy to help.