Heat Pumps and How They Work


Heat pumps use electricity or geothermal energy to transfer heat from a cool space to a warm space via refrigerant. The name “heat pump” describes its process: pumping heat from a higher to a lower temperature level.

If you know how an air conditioner works, then you know the basic workings of a heat pump. The only difference is that a heat pump can also work in reverse. In the winter heat is removed from the outdoors and brought inside, while in the summer, heat is transferred from the indoors to the outside.

This video explains, in detail, how heat pumps work.

  • In the summer, the heat pump’s compressor, the pump part, receives refrigerant vapor, which is responsible for holding and transferring the heat. It then transfers the hot, high-pressure refrigerant into the condenser and cools it down into a liquid that passes through the second expansion valve and decreases the pressure, allowing it to evaporate. This evaporated refrigerant collects moisture and absorbs heat, providing dehumidification for the home. The refrigerant then travels back to the compressor and starts the process all over again.
  • In the winter, this process is reversed. The refrigerant path is rerouted and heat is absorbed from the outside air by the evaporator and then brought inside and released by the condenser to heat your home. Since the heat pump is able to both heat and cool a home, it is very efficient and cost-effective.

For a more detailed explanation of each of your heat pumps parts:



As is probably obvious already, heat pumps are complicated, high-tech machines with lots of moving parts. Always have a licensed professional repair and install your heating and cooling equipment.

The only con of having a heat pump is installation price. Since they are more complicated pieces of machinery, they cost more to install; however, since heat pumps don’t use any energy to generate heat, only to move it, you could save up to 75% on your monthly heating and cooling costs.

The money you save will soon offset the higher installation costs.

Heating and Cooling Des Moines Since 1997

If you have any questions about heat pumps or would like one of our trained technicians to conduct a whole-home heating and cooling analysis, our lines are open 24/7 at 515-COMFORT (515.266.3678). Give us a call now or visit us on our website for a full list of services.

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