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How To Improve Home Heating Efficiency This Holiday Season

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Heat Pumps: The Most Efficient Way To Keep Homes Warm in the Winter

Fall has given way to winter, and temperatures are already plummeting. Even in the Pacific Northwest, which doesn’t see the frigid extremes of its northern and easterly neighbors, the cold, rainy season has arrived in force, and the chill factor is nothing to scoff at. So as homeowners crank up their thermostats to keep their homes warm and cozy inside, heaters across the region will be working hard to measure up to the task. 

Gas-powered or electrical resistance-style heating systems are widely-used and quite effective, but many homeowners may be shocked to discover how much energy these types of heaters consume. More and more, homeowners are making the switch to heat pumps for this very reason - but the benefits don’t stop there.

How Do Heat Pumps Work?


Firstly, ‘heat pump’ is a general term for any device that draws heat from one space and releases it into another. In the home heating and cooling system, this is accomplished using two units - one outdoors and one indoors. With refrigerant-filled evaporator coils, the outdoor unit absorbs heat energy from a nearby source such as air, water, or the ground itself. 

After being pressurized by a compressor (which naturally adds more heat), the refrigerant flows to condenser coils in the indoor unit. A blower fan then moves air over the coils, absorbing the heat energy and pumping it throughout the home. The refrigerant flows back to the outdoor unit, and the cycle is repeated.

Energy-Saving Features

Since heat pumps transfer heat energy from one place to another, they require relatively little power to operate. While they utilize natural processes like vaporization and compression to supplement existing heat energy in the refrigerant, they do not generate heat themselves. In contrast, furnaces and boilers directly convert electricity or gas into heat, which can burn through a whole lot of energy throughout a cold winter. Some heat pumps require half as much energy as traditional heaters (or even less) to heat the same space.

Many heat pumps come with other options that can further enhance energy efficiency. Some feature a desuperheater coil or heat reclaimer that captures superfluous heat energy and uses it to heat household water. Others utilize a dual-mode compressor or blower motor that automatically adjusts to use more or less power based on the demands of the thermostat, rather than operating at full power at all times.

More Advantages of Installing a Heat Pump

Aside from reducing utility costs and environmental impact, installing a heat pump has other benefits as well. A heat pump, by design, can handle both the heating and cooling needs of a home - the process is simply reversed when the system is set to cool, transferring heat from inside to outside. This eliminates the need to use two separate systems for the warm and cold seasons. As a result, maintenance and repairs are less of a hassle (and less expensive).


Heat pumps are also very effective dehumidifiers, especially those that draw heat from the soil. This can be very advantageous during those humid, rainy seasons. While heat pumps usually function better in moderate climates, some newer types are made to handle extremes, and many have backup heating elements. They'll last some 15 years, which is plenty of time to be saving money on energy costs.

Ultimately, with so many different styles and options, homeowners would do well to schedule a consultation with their HVAC company to determine which type of heat pump will yield the greatest benefits for their specific situation.

About Sunset Heating & Cooling

Sunset Heating & Cooling has been providing exceptional service and workmanship to Portland, Oregon since 1922. With an A+ BBB rating and a passion for community involvement, they are one of Portland’s most trusted and well-reviewed local businesses. They offer flat-rate, up-front pricing, financing, and membership perks. Call now for expert heat pump services!

What Our Clients Say

Sunset went out of their way to help with my project and David was amazing. Great job and look forward to future projects.

-Todd T.

Roman did an awesome job. I had the trifecta, new AC unit ,furnace and hot water heater. Courteous, and competent service. I highly recommend Sunset Heating & Cooling.

-Charles E.

Eduardo provided excellent service when he repaired our AC. I felt his effort was over and above expected. Polite and professional at all times. Good job!

-William G.

Caring, professional and helpful. Thanks for making things happen quickly and getting my Dear friend's heating back up and running in such a quick manner. You went above and beyond for a family in need and that is very much appreciated. Thanks from the whole group!

-Kristina K.

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