If you’ve lived in Wisconsin through the winter season, you know just how frigid the weather can get. And you also know just how expensive it can be to heat your home when outdoor temperatures start dropping. But if you’ve always heated your home using a traditional furnace system, you may not be aware that a more efficient heating system is available.

What system are we hinting at? A heat pump! And if you’re not familiar with it, now’s the time to educate yourself. Read on to learn what heat pumps are, how they work, and whether opting for a heat pump in lieu of a furnace might be a good idea. 

What Is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is a standalone apparatus that’s capable of not only heating the air but also cooling it. It features a condenser and an air handler that are split by a refrigerant line, which is why heat pumps are sometimes referred to as mini-splits. These units don’t require any ductwork to distribute the air they heat and cool, and they’re typically about three times more efficient than a traditional furnace.

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

Heat pumps work by absorbing heat from the air, concentrating that heat, and then transferring it from one place to another. The unit accomplishes this by altering the pressure of the refrigerant contained within its system.

When the refrigerant is at low pressure, it readily absorbs heat from the surrounding air and then changes state from a liquid to a gas. That high-pressure gas contains more heat energy than the surrounding air, so it transfers heat into the air and then condenses back into a liquid.

The unit can absorb heat from the air inside your home and transfer that heat outdoors, thereby cooling the inside of your house. Or, it can pull heat from the air outdoors and transfer it into your home, thereby warming the space. Even when it’s cold outdoors, there’s still heat energy in the air, and the refrigerant inside the heat pump is still at a lower pressure than the cold outdoor air.

Why Is a Heat Pump More Efficient Than a Furnace or Air Conditioner?

Heat pumps are remarkably energy efficient because rather than creating warm or cool air, they simply absorb heat energy and move it from one place to another. Burning fuel to generate heat inevitably produces some degree of energy loss, but moving heat from one place to another doesn’t waste any energy at all.

Should You Opt for a Heat Pump in Lieu of a Furnace?

Probably not. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get one at all. Heat pumps experience a significant drop in efficiency when outdoor temperatures drop into the freezing or near-freezing range. That said, they can easily augment your furnace’s heating capacity when it’s a little warmer outdoors.

You can have an air-source heat pump added to your home and use it to boost your overall heating efficiency. When it’s cool outdoors (between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit), you can use the heat pump rather than your furnace to warm your home, which can save you a chunk on your energy bills. Then, when temperatures really start dropping, switch over to the furnace during the coldest months of the year.

While you’re here, learn how to get your furnace ready for the winter season.

Considering a Heat Pump? Contact Steve’s Plumbing & Heating

If you’re looking for ways to lower your annual energy expenses and reduce your environmental footprint, installing a heat pump is a great way to accomplish both those goals. To learn more about all of your home heating and cooling options, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team! We serve homeowners throughout Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, Marshfield, Wausau, and the surrounding areas. Give us a call today at 715-421-1800 or request an estimate, and we’ll go from there!