Sanitary hot water heat pump

House heat pump

Could you give me an explanation of how heat pumps work? — Anthony, Pearl River, NY

A: Riichard Trethewey replies: A heat pump is an air conditioner in reverse. With an air conditioner, heat is extracted from the building as it is absorbed into refrigerant inside the fan unit in your basement or closet. The refrigerant then carries the heat to an outdoor unit where it is transferred outside. This leaves the air in the building cooler. This same basic cycle happens millions of times an hour in American refrigerators and freezers. In a heat pump, heat is extracted from the air outside and brought into the house. Surprisingly, there is a decent amount of heat to be extracted until the outdoor air gets to approximately 30 to 35 degrees F. Then you need a backup heater.

A heat pump is an excellent solution for climates that don't often get below freezing. In colder climates, a geo-exchange (geothermal) heat pump might be a better heat pump choice. A loop of pipe in the ground filled with antifreeze replaces the outdoor air conditioning unit and always sees the earth's 52 degrees F. The initial cost is dramatically higher because of drilling or loop installation cost, but it works in cold weather.

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Honeywell Honeywell RTH3100C Digital Heat/Cool Pump Thermostats
Home Improvement (Honeywell)
  • Easy to see read backlit display with soft-touch button interface
  • Quality temperature control for heat pump with auxiliary heat
  • Mercury free thermostat
  • For use with heat pumps only
  • Ships at 8.8-ounces
Honeywell Honeywell TH3110D1008 Pro Non-Programmable Digital Thermostat
Home Improvement (Honeywell)
  • Non-programmable digital thermostat
  • Backlit digital display - both current and set temperatures are easy to read in various lighting conditions
  • Shows both current and set temperatures at the same time
  • Precise comfort control [± 1 F (± 0.5 C)] - maintains consistent comfort to the highest level of accuracy
  • Basic operation - easy-to-use slide switches allow you to select the heat or cool mode, and operate the fan
Standard Plumbing Supply Robertshaw RS6110 1 Heat/1 Cool Digital 7 Day Programmable Thermostat Heat Pump, Single Stage
Home Improvement (Standard Plumbing Supply)
  • Fully programmable with soft touch keys to easily set four events per day AND 7 day scheduling
  • Copy command that makes programming simple to set up and flexible to use
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