Is a Heat Pump Useful in the Summer?

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated November 11, 2021
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Highlights

  • Heat pumps can heat and cool your home.

  • The average cost for a new heat pump is $4,100–$7,200.

  • There are three types of heat pumps: air, water, and ground.

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There’s nothing quite like coming inside on a cold winter day and kicking back while your heat pump keeps your house nice and toasty. But did you know a heat pump can also keep you cool during those sweltering hot summers? Here’s what you need to know about how a heat pump works in the summer.

Summer vs. Winter Use

A heat pump can be used in place of a standard air conditioner and heating system. They cool the house with refrigerant, evaporator, and coils. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the inside of your home, and the pump pushes the warm air outside. 

In the winter, the opposite is true. The heat pump pulls heat from outdoors and pulls it into the house. Even on a cold day, there is still heat in the air, water, or ground for your pump to pull in and warm your home. However, it can struggle to operate efficiently in temperatures that dip below 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Types

Before you dive into a new purchase, know there are three types of heat pumps available on the market. Though they all work similarly, how each system pulls in and releases heat is different. Here’s how each one operates.

Air Source

Air-source pumps pull in heat from inside your home and release the warm air outside to help keep your house cool. 

Water Source

Like air-source pumps, water-source ones use a water cycling system as the main method of transferring heat to and from your home.

Ground Source

Also known as a geothermal heat pump system, ground-source pumps use heat from below ground to warm your house and release heat into the earth to cool it.

Benefits of Summer Heat Pump Usage

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They offer the same quality of comfort in the summer as other HVAC systems. Other than the upfront cost of a heat pump, there are very few—if any—disadvantages of using one in the summer. 

On the other hand, there are many advantages to using a heat pump. For example, you can use the same system to cool your home that you do to heat it while saving energy costs by 30% to 40% during the winter. 

Here are a few additional perks:

  • Lower your household’s carbon emissions by 46%–54%, according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

  • Save as much as $950 yearly on energy bills.

  • Save $50–$200 a year on cooling costs.

  • Get a federal tax credit with a geothermal heat pump.

  • Be eligible for credits or local rebates wherever applicable.

  • Have a quieter operating system than furnaces.

  • Control humidity better than traditional HVAC systems.

Costs

Expect to pay $4,100 to $7,200 for the cost of a heat pump and installation, depending on the unit size and job complexity. 

This definitely isn’t a DIY project. With the amount of heavy equipment, specialized materials, and skill involved, you’ll want to find a local heat pump installer to do the work. Plus, a qualified heating and cooling contractor takes factors such as the size of your home and air duct system into account to pick the right-size unit that works best.

Improper installation can actually bump up your energy costs or even cause damage to the unit a couple of years down the line, so hire a pro to start and complete the job correctly.

Maintenance

A heat pump requires the same annual maintenance as a typical air conditioning system, including cleaning and inspecting the condenser coils and inspecting and lubricating the fans. A standard air conditioning tune-up or summer heat pump tune-up can cost around $100.

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