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Carolina Climate Control Blog

Why Heat Pumps Are So Great During Our Winters


Have you heard of heat pumps? If not, our mascot Moose is so happy that you dropped in today! Heat pumps aren’t new technology, but they’ve started to explode in popularity as HVAC solutions great for homes and businesses. 

Heat pumps are electrically powered refrigerant-based systems similar in to air conditioners. The biggest difference between heat pumps and ACs is that where ACs can only use refrigerant to move heat out of homes, heat pumps can change the direction they work so they can both move heat out of homes and move it into them. That means a heat pump is both a heater and an air conditioner in one.

Heat pumps in Mt. Pleasant, SC and elsewhere in the Charleston area are a perfect match for the weather. Heat pumps aren’t ideal in all climates, but it feels like they were invented just for ours. We’ll explain more.

The Winter Heating Advantage

When a heat pump is in heating mode, it works by absorbing heat from outdoors by evaporating refrigerant in the outdoor coil. This heat enters the home when the hot refrigerant condenses in the indoor coil. 

But wait, how can a heat pump get heat from outside when it will only work in heating mode during cold weather? There is always some heat in the air, no matter how cold it gets, and that’s what the heat pump draws on. However, it’s much easier to do this and maintain energy efficiency when it isn’t that cold—and this is why heat pumps work so well in our local winters. 

For instance, our average low during January, our coldest month, is 43°F. To a heat pump that’s nothing. The refrigerant moving through the outdoor coils of a heat pump in heating mode is colder than 43°F, and that makes it easy for it to absorb heat from the air. Only sub-freezing temperatures will cause a heat pump to lose energy efficiency, and we experience that weather infrequently. 

But what if…?

Yes, we hear you. It’s still possible for a heat pump to encounter cold conditions here in Charleston that may affect its performance. The good news is that the only time you may notice a significant difference in the heat pump’s efficiency is if the temperature plunges into the negatives. If a winter night gets down into the 30s, a heat pump might use more energy, but not significantly so, and you’ll still have the comfort you want.

Plus, there are options for heat pumps to help them work at peak efficiency even against the cold. The most practical option is what’s known as a dual fuel heat pump. This is basically a heat pump that has a backup furnace that kicks in whenever the heat pump starts to lose efficiency due to cold. There are also additional heat options, such as electrical heating elements, that can assist heat pumps that struggle with occasional temperature extremes.

Remember the summer!

Something to keep in mind when it comes to heat pumps is that they’re year-round comfort devices. You don’t purchase a heat pump just to handle the winter weather. A heat pump is ready to turn into a powerful air conditioner whenever you need it. 

Call on Carolina Climate Control if you’re interested in the installation of a heat pump. The Moose Is Loose in Your Neighborhood! 

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