There are many components of a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, but none so misunderstood as the heat pump. Here we explain what a heat pump is, how it works, and the pros and cons of utilizing one.

What is a Heat Pump?

Put simply, a heat pump warms your home in the winter and cools it in the summer. It’s an important part of a central heating and cooling system, constantly moving warm air around.

There are three types of heat pumps: geothermal, water source, and air-to-air. Each collects heat in a different way, either from the ground, from water, or from the air, with air-to-air heat pumps being the most common and what we will be covering in this article.

How Does a Heat Pump Work in Winter?

The heat pump is a mechanical component of your heating and cooling system. During the winter, heat from the air is absorbed at a low temperature and converted into a fluid. The fluid will pass through the compressor, increasing the temperature, and will then send that heat to the heating and hot water systems of the house.

How Does a Heat Pump Work in Summer? 

In the summer, it pumps warm air from indoors and moves it outside, cooling your home.

Wait! Isn't That The Same Thing a Standard AC Unit Does During the Summer? 

Yes. A heat pump is essentially operating the same way a standard air conditioner works during the summer months. They both use the same process of compressing and expanding refrigerant to absorb and release heat. In this case, they are absorbing the heat from inside the home and transferring it outside. 

In What Temperature is a Heat Pump Not Effective?

Heat pumps have historically been scarcely used in climates that reach sub-freezing temperatures for extended periods of time due to the lack of sufficient heat energy available in colder air. For this reason, heat pumps are predominantly seen in milder climates.

However, with the advancement of heat pump technology, they are becoming more common in regions with colder winter climates. If the temperature in your region consistently drops below freezing, it would be best to consider pairing the heat pump with a furnace for an energy-efficient dual heating system.

Heat Pump Pros and Cons


  1. Heat pumps are highly energy efficient. Heat pumps can deliver one-and-a-half to three times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy it consumes. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a heat pump can reduce energy use by 30% - 60%.
  2. Heat pumps can control and remove humidity better than an air conditioning unit.
  3. Heat pumps are not reliant on fossil fuel, making them more environmentally friendly than furnaces.


  1. Heat pumps aren’t as effective in below-freezing weather.
  2. Depending on the type, some heat pumps can be costly to install.
  3. Heat pumps rely on electricity to operate, ensuring that they will never be a carbon-neutral option.

Heat pumps are a great alternative to common heating systems, but there are many factors to consider when deciding on what will work best for your home. When you are ready to discuss your best options, contact the experts at One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning.