What is a heat pump?

A heat pump is an electrically powered heating system that uses a small amount of energy to move heat from one location to another.

The two main types are air source heat pumps used to pull heat from the air outside your home and ground source heat pumps used to pull heat from the ground outside to provide both hot water & heat for your home or office building.

So how does the heat pump pull heat from the air or ground outside?

On the face of it you would think this can’t possibly work, taking heat from the air or ground outside!  But in fact you already have a form of heat pump in your home and we take for granted that it continually works every day.  Your fridge or refrigerator is a simplified heat pump, taking heat from inside your fridge through a series of coils fitted to the interior and transferring this heat to a panel of coils at the rear of the fridge unit. Quietly and efficiently this appliance performs the role of a heat pump day and night (and if you go to the electrical store you will see very high energy rating cert.’s on fridge’s, of the order of A or B rating).

Fridge an efficient appliance

The heat pump in your home right now

A heat pump uses a small amount of energy to switch that process into reverse, pulling heat out of a relatively low-temperature area, and pumping it into a higher temperature area.  In a heat pump, this heat is transferred from a heat source (e.g. the ground or air) into a heat sink (e.g. your home). Heat pumps are extremely efficient because they simply transfer heat, rather than burn fuel to create it.

You tube heat pump video

For example:  as mentioned in my last post the ratio of energy used in a heat pump to heat the hot water  & space heating provided into to your home or business is from 3:1 up to 4:1 i.e. the pump uses 1 kilowatt of electricity and transfers 3 kilowatts of heat into the home heating  system and hot water tank. 

Making a heat pump from 350 – 400% efficient!

Some Heat pumps are also a bi-functional unique type of heating system, because they can do the work of both a heating system and an air conditioner  – i.e.  They can be switched into reverse to also cool a building taking the heat inside your home or office in the summer and expelling it outside in the same manner as your fridge.

Basic heat pump operation

Basic heat pump operation cycle

Heat pump  information on our website :

Heat pumps

Air source heat pump : – How it works

Ground source heat pump : – How it works

Quick Glossary -

ASHP : ( Air Source Heat Pump )

GSHP: ( Ground Source Heat Pump )

COP: ( Coefficient Of Performance = The amount of heat created : divided by the amount of work [electrical] required to do so)

GEOTHERMAL: ( Ground source or Water source underneath ground )

In my next post I will provide the ‘back of the envelope’ approach to calculate the cost ‘versus’ payback of a heat pump heating system and discuss some of the other benefits of using this renewable energy heating / cooling system.


18 Responses to “What is a heat pump?”

  1. Lilia Diepenbrock Says:

    I admire what you have done here. I like the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that this is working for you as well.Cheers

  2. Ground Source Heat Pumps Says:

    I suspect that during the ‘Big freeze’ heating bills are at a all time high! And if we should expect these cold winters every year, then Ground Source Heat Pumps would be a sensible choice for long term savings!

  3. airheat pumps Says:

    It is a smart investment to buy Heat Pumps for they can be used in long terms. Some Heat pumps are also a bi-functional system, because they can do the work of both a heating system and an air conditioner. They can be switched into reverse that helps you cool down in summer days or kill chills in winter seasons.

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    Hi Malcom,
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  8. plumbing Says:

    Heat pump is one of the best ways to cool or warm your home as they will in the long run reduce your heating costs in general. Some heat pumps also have the facility to heat water as well. Some pumps utilize air, while some utilize ground sources for their functioning.

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