Heat pumps for central air and for heating your home

JoelIn our quest to become more “green,” let me pose a question: Did you ever wonder what would happen if your central air conditioner started spinning in the opposite direction?

Well, I’ll tell you what, it’ll save you at least a couple hundred dollars a year, and even more for those with larger homes. Let me tell you what I mean…

A hybrid heat pump system has the ability to reverse itself to produce heat in the winter and still provides the cooling we need during the hot summer temperatures. To the naked eye, a heat pump simply looks like a central air conditioning unit, yet it does so much more. It’s really two units in one.

Now it doesn’t actually spin in the opposite direction. Instead, it pumps the refrigerant in the opposite direction, which means the coil inside your furnace that gets cold to provide cool air in the summer would get hot in the winter months to provide warm air. You’ll still need a gas furnace; the heat pump will provide only enough heat to heat your home when the outdoor temperature is near or above 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Below that, the system automatically shuts the heat pump off and turns the gas furnace on. Hybrid systems do this so seamlessly that you’ll never even know when it happens.

One thing to remember is that for a great portion of the heating season, the outdoor temperatures are above the 20-degree point.

A regular central air unit can only cool your home. A hybrid heat pump system can provide heat during the milder temperatures and then also cooling when it gets hot outside.

By using the heat pump to heat your home when temperatures are mild, you’ll save a great deal of money on your gas bills by using more affordable electric power at a reduced electric rate.

If you’re in the market for central air this coming season, ask your local contractor about a hybrid heat pump system as well. You’ll be glad you did.

Joel Wensley is a licensed mechanical contractor in the state of Michigan, a member of the Comfort Institute and is also the president of Mechanical Heating & Cooling in Dearborn Heights.