Are you in the market for a new home or an upgrade to your existing one? Heating and air conditioning options are, no doubt, at the top of your list of considerations. If your home search is in a relatively mild climate, you’ve probably heard that a heat pump is your best bet. You may still have lots of questions, though.

Here is everything you need to know about heat pumps.

What Is a Heat Pump?

To best understand what a heat pump is, think of it as a central air conditioner that both heats and cools your home. In cold weather, a heat pump extracts heat energy from outdoors even when it’s cold and transfers it indoors to help warm your home. It can transfer heat from place to place as needed. In hot weather, it draws heat from the inside and moves it outdoors.

A heat pump is powered by electricity and uses refrigerant to provide year-round comfort. Since it takes care of both heating and cooling, there is no need for the homeowner to install separate systems.

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

The term “heat pump” is somewhat of a misnomer. A heat pump does not create heat. Instead, it redistributes heat from the air or ground (depending on the type of heat pump) using the physical property of heat energy naturally wanting to escape to places with lower temperatures and less pressure.

Like an air conditioner, a heat pump uses a refrigerant to cool your home. The difference is that a reversing valve in the heat pump changes the flow of refrigerant allowing it to also provide heating. With the flow of refrigerant, the heat energy circulates to a condenser coil and is released by a fan blowing air across the coil. This process allows heat to be pumped from place to place. When a heat pump is set to cooling mode, it absorbs heat from indoors and releases it outdoors the same way an air conditioner does.

What Are the Different Types of Heat Pumps?

Heat pumps can be divided into four main categories: air source, water source, ground source, and hybrid. The most common are air-source and ground-source heat pumps. Hybrid heat pumps work with fossil-burning furnaces.

Air source heat pumps are popular and inexpensive to install. They use the air outside as an exchange source, heat the air, and blow it into the home using fans. They perform best in moderate climates. However, they are only used for heating homes, not water. Your water heater will have to work on a separate system.

Water source heat pumps are less common. They use water instead of air to dissipate heat and require access to a lake or other source of water.

Operating similar to a boiler or furnace, a ground-source or geothermal heat pump harnesses the heat from underground instead of burning fossil fuel. This type of system can be used for hot water, radiators, and an underfloor heating system.

In climates that experience very warm temperatures in summer and very cold temperatures in winter, hybrid systems are the most efficient way to heat homes. During warm weather, air source leads the way. When the temperature falls, the system switches to ground-source heating.

Are Heat Pumps Suitable for Colder Climates?

Homeowners need to take the climate they live in into consideration when choosing a new heating or cooling system. Heat pumps are usually used in milder climates that don’t see many days with consistently freezing temperatures. However, they can work with the addition of an electric heat strip on the indoor fan coil.

Heat pumps can also be combined with energy-efficient heating systems and furnaces to work effectively on most cold days if the temperatures aren’t too extreme. If the temperature drops so low the heat pump can’t function properly, the system will use the furnace to generate heat instead. Hence, the term “dual-system.” This is a very efficient and cost-effective way to heat your home.

What Are the Benefits of Heat Pumps?

Heat pumps provide an impressive list of benefits homeowners will enjoy. These benefits are the reason we recommend upgrading your heating and cooling with a heat pump.

Comfort and Convenience

With a heat pump, you are in control of the temperature of your home year around you for what feels the most comfortable to you. A heat pump can warm up or cool down a room in a matter of minutes. Increase or decrease the temperature of a room to conveniently maintain your comfort level. You can even get mobile apps that work with your heat pump. The heat from a heat pump is clean and doesn’t create ashes, smoke, or any material that has to be removed.


Heat pumps are a very eco-friendly way for you to heat and cool your home. They don’t use fossil fuels or burden the environment with carbon emissions. They only use a small amount of electricity to run the compressor. Newer heat pumps use environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant that doesn’t harm the earth’s ozone layer.

Heat Pumps Are Safe

Gas and wood-burning sources of heat create hot surfaces that children or pets may touch and burn themselves on. They’re also not safe while you are asleep or away from home. With a heat pump, all of these worries are eliminated.

Improved Indoor Air Quality

Unlike other heating sources, heat pumps don’t add smoke or fumes to the air you breathe indoors. A heat pump improves air quality by removing particles like smoke, dust, and mold spores. They are an excellent choice for allergy and asthma sufferers.

Heat Pumps Add Value to Your Home

The popularity of heat pumps makes them an excellent way to add value to your home. They are streamlined, aesthetically designed, and save space.

Heat Pumps are Highly Energy-Efficient

Currently, heat pumps are one of the most cost-effective ways to heat your home. A good system achieves an average Coefficient of Performance (COP) number of four or more. That is equivalent to an average of less than one kilowatt for four kilowatts of heating or cooling power. In contrast, conventional heating systems have a COP of less than one which means they use more than one kilowatt to produce a kilowatt of heating power.

Installing a heat pump is complex and requires a complete understanding of electricity and HVAC systems. At Thermo Direct in Raleigh, we have the knowledge, experience, and expertise to install the type of heat pump best suited to your home.

Our team of professionals also service HVAC systems. Winters in Raleigh can be cold and temperatures are sweltering in the summer. Thermo Direct provides 24/7 emergency repair service. We also provide heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing services from installations and repairs to inspections. Call us for a quote or to schedule a heat pump installation service. You can also find out about our payment options.

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