According to MassCEC (Massachusetts Clean Energy Center), air-source heat pumps can offer Wakefield homeowners an energy-efficient, reliable method of home heating and cooling and a steady supply of hot water as well. If you plan to shop for new residential heating and cooling equipment in the near future, it’s worth learning more about this type of heat pump and how installing one can lower the cost of heating and cooling your Wakefield, Mass., home.
Just like central air conditioners, air-source heat pumps consist of an outdoor compressor unit equipped with a fan and coil of copper tubing and an indoor unit that also contains a coil along with an air handler/blower fan. The two coils are linked together by copper lines filled with refrigerant that flows between the indoor and outdoor units in a continuous loop.
In contrast to an A/C, an air-source heat pump also has a reversing valve that switches the operation of the indoor and outdoor coils to provide heating or air conditioning, according to the season. Here’s how these heat pumps function when they’re cooling and heating:
For cooling a home, an air-source heat pump works exactly like an air conditioner — the blower fan pushes hot air over the indoor coil that’s filled with cold, liquid refrigerant, which absorbs the heat from the air as it moves through the coil. As the refrigerant heats up, it changes into a gas and continues through the loop to the outdoor unit. Here, the refrigerant gets compressed, which raises the temperature even more, and then moves through the coil where the heat is released into the outside air. The outdoor fan sends airflow over the coil to aid the heat release process.
When the cold season arrives, a reversing valve is used to transition the heat pump into heating mode. It goes through the identical process described for cooling, but the refrigerant moves in the opposite direction. The indoor and outdoor coils also switch their roles to facilitate heating a home. Cool refrigerant flows through the outdoor coil, where it absorbs heat from the air and transforms from a liquid to a gas. The hot, gaseous refrigerant then flows through the copper lines to the indoor coil, where the captured heat is released to warm the interior of the building.
Heating a home with a heat pump is completely different than heating with gas- or oil-fired equipment, such as a furnace or boiler. With gas or oil heating, the fuel is consumed to generate heat. A heat pump system runs on electricity, but instead of creating heat through fuel combustion, it simply moves heat already present in the air between the indoor and outdoor environments. Heat is transferred from the outdoors to the home’s interior to provide wintertime heating, and it’s moved outdoors from inside the home during the hot, humid summers when cooling is needed.
It used to be that heat pumps were really only ideal for more southern locales because they were no longer able to draw heat from the outdoor air when the temperature dropped close to freezing. In recent years, tremendous strides have been made in the effectiveness of the heat transfer process in cold climates such as the chilly North Shore area, where winter temperatures are often below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Nowadays, there are air-source heat pumps available that can capture the warmth from the outdoor air in temperatures below -10 degrees Fahrenheit, making this heating method feasible for Wakefield homes.
These cold-climate heat pumps are available in conventional, split-systems for homes with existing forced-air ductwork. They’re also available as individual ductless units, or mini-split systems, featuring multiple indoor air handlers connecting to a single outdoor compressor, for new buildings and homes without ductwork already in place.
Choosing a cold-climate air-source heat pump for heating your Wakefield home offers some distinct benefits:
If you’re looking for a cost-effective heating solution for your Wakefield home, call the team at 128 Plumbing today at 781-670-3261, or schedule a free consultation online. Our licensed electrical and HVAC technicians install, service, and repair quality heat pump brands from industry-leading manufacturers in communities throughout Eastern Massachusetts.