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Heat pumps: what they do and why they’re hot now Part 1

Views: 5000     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-08-26      Origin: Site

Heat pumps: what they do and why they’re hot now Part 1

LAWMAKERS ARE SCRAMBLING TO DEPLOY HEAT PUMPS

The humble heat pump has finally found its moment in the spotlight. The appliance can potentially save you money on your energy bills, fight climate change, and reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas, proponents say. One day, heat pumps might even replace air conditioning and heating systems across the world.

Sure, that sounds super ambitious, but lawmakers are scrambling to deploy heat pumps everywhere they can. President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act earlier this year to boost domestic manufacturing of the technology, and Congress crafted major climate legislation that makes it easier for Americans to afford them. Across the pond in Europe, heat pumps are part of efforts to pivot away from Russian fuels.

With all that hype, you might want to get familiar with the technology suddenly making headlines. So,Linuo Ritter put together this guide on what heat pumps are, what they do, and why they’re making such a splash now.

WHAT IS A HEAT PUMP?

There are different kinds of heat pump technologies, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll focus on the appliances making the most waves right now. The appliances causing all the fuss are electric heat pumps that are used to heat and cool the air inside homes and buildings. And don’t let the name fool you. Heat pumps can do the same job as furnaces and air conditioners.

HOW DOES A HEAT PUMP WORK?

This varies depending on the type of heat pump, but the defining feature is that they move heat around to where you want it. Specifically, the appliances use a refrigerant to draw in heat and redistribute it. A refrigerant is a substance with a low boiling point that can easily absorb heat. They’re also used in air conditioners and refrigerators.

The most common kind of heat pump you’ll hear about are “air-source” heat pumps that move heat between your home and the outside air.

It’s got two parts: an indoor component and an outdoor component. When used to cool a space down, the indoor component pushes warm air from inside a space over coils filled with liquid refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs the heat from the air, boils, and evaporates into a gas. From there, the heated up refrigerant moves on to the outdoor component, where it releases the heat. The refrigerant cools down, turns back into a liquid, and the process can begin again. When heat pumps are used to warm up a room, the process works in reverse. The refrigerant absorbs heat from outside and moves that indoors. Thanks to some relatively recent breakthroughs in heat pump technologies, this works even in cold climates because the refrigerant will absorb heat as long as it’s colder than its surroundings.

There are also “ground-source” or geothermal heat pumps that move heat between a home or building and either the ground outside or a nearby source of water.


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