Is Heat Pump Technology The Future And How Does It Work?

Team Solarblocks Energy
October 19, 2023
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Is Heat Pump Technology The Future And How Does It Work?

“Heat pumps sell like hotcakes on America’s Frontier,” a news headline read. 
“Cheap and green: Heat pumps take hold around the world, " read another.

Heat pumps are good for your pocket and — great for the planet.

An efficient home heating and cooling equipment, the heat pump technology is also cheap, no matter which part of the world you live in. It generates lower carbon emissions than today’s gas boilers and is set to become the central technology in the global transition to a sustainable and secure future. Experts even say it is the best way for homeowners to lower their carbon footprint and gain from the benefits of a green future without sacrificing comfort. Nonetheless, it is a win-win for everyone.

Let’s Jump Into the Statistics Of Heat Pump Technology

Per a analysis, the global market of heat pumps for homes will witness a growth of $151.3 billion by 2032 from the already-valued $66.5 billion in 2022. The predicted growth surge is a whopping 8.8% CAGR during the forecast period of 2023 to 2032.

In America, the sale of heat pumps topped the combined sales of gas-powered furnaces in 2022 as part of a bigger trend that saw its global sales accelerate by 11%, according to an IEA analysis. Residents roughly bought 4.3 million heat pump units in 2022, compared to 3.9 million natural gas furnaces — as the tech of choice to keep their homes comfortable.

These are 2022 figures which include sales data calculated from January to November, along with the projected sales for December.

The adoption of heat pump technology is also increasing in colder climates like New York. More than 29,500 heat pump projects were installed in the state in 2022, which represented a 37% growth jump from 2021.

In other news, NYC is also poised to issue a statewide ban on the usage of fossil fuels, likely to take effect in 2026. As part of this, residents will be required to ditch gas stoves, propane heating, and furnaces in favor of climate-friendly appliances like heat pumps for homes. The step will help sustain NYC’s commitment to source 70% of electricity from renewables and achieve a net-zero emissions electric sector by 2040.

Are Heat Pumps For Homes Efficient Than Furnaces?

Yes. When compared with traditional HVAC systems, a heat pump moves heat instead of generating it by combusting fossil fuels. On the other hand, gas-powered furnaces or boilers do not convert 100% of the fuel to heat. Rather they emit harmful flammable gases during the process. An electric resistance heater also burns watts to produce heat.

Heat pumps are safe in terms of health and safety concerns. There is no danger of transporting flammable materials into your basement or an accident caused due to poor home ventilation. According to the US Department of Energy, heat pump technology can also save you nearly $1,000 (6,200 kWh) a year versus oil heat or $500 (3,000 kWh) versus electrical heating.

What Is Heat Pump Technology?

Heat pumps follow a simple recipe — seize heat to work it.

For cooling purposes, the pump extracts heat from the cool outdoors to blow warm air into the room. For heating, it does the opposite. The heat pump draws heat from the air inside the room and blows it outside to keep the room cool. A two-in-one technology, this is what makes heat pumps an attractive option among homeowners.

There are three main forms of heat pumps — air source, water source, and geothermal. These differ in heat collection mechanism, i.e., from the air, water, or underground.

Now, let us understand this in detail.

Heat pumps have an indoor component and an outdoor component.

When in heating mode,

  • The outdoor unit sources heat or blows hot air through tubes in a space filled with liquid refrigerant at a low temperature.
  • The common fluid used, R134a, has a boiling point of -26.3ºC or about -15ºF).
  • The refrigerant starts to heat up and turn the air into gas.
  • The gas passes through a compressor, which increases pressure and raises the temperature.
  • Finally, it is blown inside the room.
  • Once done, the gas temperature starts cooling, and it turns back to its liquid form.
  • The refrigeration cycle repeats until your home temperature reaches the desired thermostat setting.

When in cooling mode,

  • The indoor unit absorbs warm air from inside the room and blows it through tubes in a space filled with liquid refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant absorbs the heat and evaporates into gas/vapor.  
  • The gas then passes through a compressor.
  • The air is released outside the room via a blowing fan.
  • The refrigerant cools down, turns into liquid, and the cycle continues.

How Do Geothermal Heat Pumps Work?

Ground source pumps (installed horizontally or vertically) have buried pipes to extract heat from the soil and rocks. Water source pumps extract the heat from water via pipes that are submerged in a nearby lake.

The heat is transferred to the refrigerant fluid and the heat exchanger, where the fluid gets evaporated and compressed to generate heat. Once the pump releases energy, the gas cools down and condenses. The fluid goes back to the circuit via the submerged pipe network, and the cycle starts again.

These heat pumps are costly to install, but they have low operating costs because of the constant supply of water and ground temperature. Functionality also depends on the pump size, the landscape, the subsoil, etc. But they are guaranteed to cut down electricity use by 30-60%.

What Is The Capacity Of Heat Pumps?

Heta pumps are flexible. They pertain to greater levels of efficiency and can move multiple kilowatt-hours of heat for every kilowatt hour of electricity. Heat pumps are measured in terms of their performance coefficient or COP. A COP of 4 is ideal for typical households, which means the energy output is four times greater than when run on electric energy. This makes the heat pump technology 3-5 times more energy-saving than gas boilers.

Do They Work In Cold Climates?

Conventional belief often dismisses heat pumps as not suitable for cold climates. But this is far from true. Air source heat pump residential can smoothly capture heat even from sub-zero temperatures outside. If installed properly, they can keep your home warm despite the bone-chilling cold outside. In cold climates, heat pumps use refrigerants with lower boiling points so the pump can function even at ambient temperatures. Variable speed heating also offers extensive support in this regard.

“The large majority of current space and water heating demand could be met with lower CO2 emissions by using heat pumps instead of condensing gas boilers.”

Do not forget to check the HSPF or the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor of the heat pump that you will install. The higher the ratings, the better the system.

Going Environment-Friendly With Heat Pumps

Decarbonization happens in two ways — Generate electricity without releasing carbon and use it as part and parcel of your life.

The majority of household heating in America still relies on burning natural gas, which is why the sector contributes about 13% of the total GHS emissions. This is where the heat pump technology minimizes the climate impact of heating. The real power lies in its efficiency, as it can generate 300% to 400% more times more energy when powered by renewables than electricity alone.

In connection to rooftop solar, a heat pump is a single electrical device that can replace traditional heaters, air conditioners, and furnaces soon. Over the next 15 years, these machines will be cheaper to buy and operate. Moreover, they produce zero carbon heat and significantly produce more heat using the same amount of electricity than space heaters.

Can New Yorkers Buy Heat Pumps For Homes With Help From the Government?

The upfront cost of heat pumps for homes has often been a barrier to its quick adoption. But that is no longer a problem today.

Across America, Government incentive programs and heat pump tax credits, along with amenities for low-income households, have helped residents purchase energy-saving equipment.

  1. The Inflation Reduction Act 2022 enables households to claim a 30% credit for buying and selling heat pump residential and other eligible home upgrades. From 2023 through 2032, NYC tax credits are available up to $32,000 a year for purchases which include:
  • Up to $2,000 for air source heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and biomass stoves/boilers.
  • $1,200 for home upgrades like windows, exterior doors, electric panels, and insulation.
  1. Starting 2023, homes with low and moderate income will get rebates for heat pumps  — 30% of the IRA tax credit, and 25% of the NYS income tax credit.
  2. IRA covers 100% cost of the heat pump’s purchase and installation, which is up to $8000. If home electric appliances need a new heat pump integration, rebates of $4000 are available.

Note: Use this calculator by Rewiring America to determine which IRA subsidies you qualify for. Or get all your queries answered at

  1. The Flexible Technical Assistance (FlexTech) Program offers financial support to multi-family facilities in New York that pay into the electric System Benefits Charge or SBC. It helps do an energy study of buildings to identify scopes to reduce energy costs and upgrade clean energy equipment.
  2. Under Con Edison Programs and Incentives, multi-family building residents can benefit from the 2023 Energy Efficiency Program. They encourage heat pump use for heating and cooling to avoid space heating issues in multifamily buildings and reduce overall carbon emissions.
  3. Con Edison Rebates on Geo-Thermal Technology of up to $20,000 on installation.
  4. Con Edison Rebate on Air Source Heat Pumps of up to $8000.
  5. HVAC Upgrade Program with a $70 million investment to decarbonize New York City Housing Authority by installing window heat pumps.

What’s Next For Heat Pump Residential?

“American households that switch to heat pumps can save up to $300 a year, said Yannick Mon schauer, an economist and energy analyst at the International Energy Agency.”

There is huge potential for heat pumps. But challenges exist.

Most heat pump residential suffer a lag in heat distribution systems. Several systems are incompatible with their operating temperatures, so heat storage solutions are the need of the hour. They help balance the power of the machine without any congestion.

Refrigerants used in the heat pumps saw major improvement. The R-22 variant has been phased out by the refrigerant R-410A in the US. The latter has a slightly lower boiling point than the former. New variable speed compressors in heat pumps help ramp their power up and down.  Bigger and better heat exchangers ensure smooth function.

Window heat pumps are comparatively new. The Gradient model is sleek in design and can be installed without professional help. They have taken over outdated heating models in the US and will pilot in New York public housing starting in 2023. HSPF ratings aim to go 8.8 this year, whereas even a rating of 9.0 will comply with eco-friendliness standards.

If You Are Curious About Heat Pumps…….

Consult the experts at Solarblocks. We will help you pick and install the best quality heat pump for homes. The process is quick, proficient, and hassle-free. Set an energy consultation call with our dedicated professionals and finalize the installation until activation. Get guaranteed services from us and take one step ahead in your journey to a green and bright future.

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