Some of the air conditioners described above are also available in a variation of a traditional system known as a heat pump. But while an air conditioner can only move heat in one direction, out, a heat pump can be reversed and pump heat in either direction. It functions as both an air conditioner and a heater, which will allow you to heat and cool throughout the year without using your furnace until it gets really cold outside.
A heat pump runs on electricity and works seamlessly with your furnace. During the summer months, the heat pump operates like a traditional air conditioner to cool the home. During cooler months, the heat pump reverses the process to extract heat from the outside air and brings it inside the home to provide heat. Your furnace will automatically take overheating your home only once the temperature outside is too cold for the heat pump to function efficiently.
Heat pumps have been quite popular in milder climates where the temperature does not stay below freezing for extended periods. However, recent advancements in heat pump technology have made them effective even in colder climates.
In colder climates like Canada, geothermal heat pumps are popular. This type of heat pump extracts heat from the ground versus a traditional heat pump which extracts it from the air. The initial investment of a geothermal heat pump is higher than an air-sourcedair-source system. The installer for this system also requires specialized skills and experience. But the long-term energy savings can certainly be significant.air-source