Electric heat pump systems are one of the most energy efficient options for both heating and cooling your home. Because heat pumps are designed to move heat around rather than generate it on their own, they represent an all-in-one HVAC solution that uses significantly less energy than a conventional heating or cooling system.

While most heating and cooling systems work by pushing around hot or cool air, electric heat pumps move heat instead. These systems are extremely efficient because they are pulling heat from outside, rather than using energy to create it on their own.

The versatile functionality of heat pumps has made them an attractive option for many different homeowner situations. Similar to mini-split systems, electric heat pumps are capable of providing multiple climate zones in homes without ductwork, or they can be paired with an existing system in order to maximize its efficiency.

Compare an Electric Heat Pump system to the other types of home heating and cooling systems in our HVAC U articles:

How it Works

Most heating and cooling systems work by burning fuel or electricity to push heated or cooled air through a home. Electric heat pumps work a bit differently, extracting and moving energy in the form of heat to regulate the temperature of a home. Heat energy naturally wants to move into spaces that are cooler and have less pressure, so electric heat pumps use this to their advantage.

Electric heat pump systems are a two component design, using one indoor and one outdoor unit. Both the indoor and outdoor unit have coils of tubing that circulate fluid, and depending on the season, acts like either an evaporator or a condenser. Both units also house a fan to blow the heat either in or out of your home.

Electric Heat Pump Coils

How Does an Electric Heat Pump Work in the Winter?

In the winter, the outdoor unit coil acts as the evaporator, and the indoor unit coil acts as the condenser. Cold fluid in the outdoor unit absorbs energy in the form of heat from the outside air (even in cold temperatures), which is transferred into the system's coolant.

The fluid then vaporizes and circulates into the system’s compressor. Compressing the gas heats it up, and the warmed vapor moves through the coils of tubing of the indoor unit of the electric heat pump that then circulates the warm air into your home.

Electric Heat Pumps in the Winter

How Does an Electric Heat Pump Work in the Summer?

This functionality also works in reverse in the summer, allowing heat pumps to provide both heating and cooling for your home. By flipping the flow of the coolant internally, heat pumps can transfer heat from inside of your home through the outdoor component of the heat pump.

In the summer, the indoor coil acts as the evaporator, and the outdoor unit acts as the compressor. Working much like a refrigerator, the heat from the inside of the house is absorbed by coolant in the indoor unit of the system. The warm air in the unit then evaporates into gas form, moving to the outside unit. The heat is transferred from the coolant to the outside air, and then the heat pump cycles the coolant through again, continuing to cool the home.

Electric Heat Pumps in the Summer

Electric vs. Geothermal Heat Pumps

Electric and geothermal heat pumps actually have a lot in common, with the major difference being that geothermal heat pumps are placed underground, instead of outside. Deciding which heat pump system is right for your home depends on the space of your property, existing HVAC system and, of course, personal preference. For more information on geothermal HVAC systems, visit our Geothermal Heating and Cooling page.

Why Electric Heat Pumps?

All-in-One Service

Regardless of the name, electric heat pump systems are designed to offer both heating and cooling services for your home. Electric heat pumps can easily replace any current, inefficient systems that your home is currently running, and streamline it into one heating and cooling solution.

Extremely Efficient = Lower Energy Bills

Although the startup cost of an electric heat pump is high, once the system is installed, you can expect to see a drop in your energy bill. Because they move heat rather than generate it, heat pumps only use electricity to power their internal fans. On average, homeowners see a 50% reduction on their energy bill compared to traditional heating systems like furnaces and baseboard heaters. Electric heat pumps are considered one of the most efficient home heating systems on the market.

Quiet, Even Performance

While many heating and cooling systems are very noisy when running, electric heat pumps work smoothly and quietly. The two-component design of a heat pump system keeps the loud compressors outside of your home, while the flexible installation capabilities of the indoor air handler ensures optimal performance.

No Fossil Fuels

Heat pump systems are able to both heat and cool your home with electricity. This makes them one of the greenest and safest climate control technologies available, with no consumption of hard to replace oil and natural gas and no burning fuels in your home!

Air Quality

In the extreme cold of winter, you may find that the air in your home is dry and you need a humidifier to stay comfortable. Similarly, summer may bring excess moisture in the air that is hard to keep under control. Electric heat pumps have humidity control, so the air quality will be excellent year round.

Considerations for Your Home

Startup Cost

Although the long-term energy savings of an electric heat pump system make them a popular choice among many homeowners, the initial costs of heat pump installation can be high. It’s best to consider the startup cost of an electric heat pump system as an investment, because the payoff truly is worth it if the system is right for your home.

Electric Heat Pump Maintenance

To keep your electric heat pump running efficiently, it will need routine maintenance and upkeep. Because electric heat pump systems have more working mechanical parts compared to most systems, they also need to be maintenanced more often. If you do install an electric heat pump system into your home, it is important to find a company that you trust to work on your system routinely to keep it running smoothly.

Want to Learn More About Electric Heat Pump Repair and Installation?


Have questions, or interested in installing an electric heat pump for your home? The experts at Unique Indoor Comfort would love to help!

FAQ's


How much does it cost to repair a heat pump?

Heat pump repair cost varies depending on the problem your system is having and the services provided. If you need help pricing an electric heat pump repair, it is best to contact a trusted technician to take a look at your system and to diagnose the issues you are experiencing.

What is the average lifespan of a heat pump?

Heat pump systems will run effectively for 10-12 years with proper maintenance. Heat pumps are used for both heating and cooling so seasonal maintenance is highly recommended. We also recommend not trying to change the temperature by more than 4 degrees in either direction at one time. Doing so will put a strain on the system and can reduce the lifespan of your system.

Can electric heat pumps be paired with another heating system?

Yes, electric heat pump systems can work in combination with any fuel source. One advantage of tying your heat pump into a fossil fuel heating source is that this system will kick on when the electric heat pump is not running efficiently. With propane backup for example, the fuel will start to be burned to heat the home as opposed to only using electricity once the outdoor temperature drops below 35 degrees.

Can heat pumps operate with existing ductwork?

Yes, most of the time you can install an electric heat pump with existing ductwork very easily, however, there are some exceptions. If the existing ductwork is old, poorly designed, or not sized for both heating and cooling, you may have to modify your existing ductwork. An expert will be able to take a look and diagnose your ductwork before installing a new system.

Can I use a heat pump in an extremely cold climate?

Yep! Despite commonly held beliefs to the contrary, modern heat pumps are an effective means of both heating and cooling your home, even in areas of extreme cold temperatures. While older heat pump technologies would lose effectiveness as temperatures dropped well below freezing, newer products by industry leaders like Mitsubishi Electric have overcome these issues to provide effective heating well below 0° Fahrenheit.

Have more questions about Electric Heat Pumps? Contact us today!