heat pump systems

Did you know that heat pump systems can be up to 2-3 times more energy efficient than traditional systems? As homeowners in Central Alberta look for ways to keep their homes comfortable while reducing energy costs, heat pump systems have become an increasingly popular choice.

In this article, we’ll explore how heat pump systems work, how they cool down a home, and the factors to consider when choosing the right system for your needs.

How Heat Pump Systems Work

A heat pump is a versatile device that can both heat and cool your home, making it an excellent choice for Central Alberta’s variable climate. At the heart of a heat pump is the refrigeration cycle. This allows it to transfer heat from one location to another.

The process relies on a special fluid called refrigerant.  It circulates through the system and changes between a liquid and a gas as it moves through different components. As it changes state it absorbs or rejects heat.

Heating and Cooling Modes in Heat Pump Systems

One of the primary advantages of a heat pump is its ability to switch between heating and cooling modes. This dual functionality makes it a more efficient and versatile alternative to traditional central air HVAC systems.

When a heat pump is set to heating mode, it extracts heat from the outdoor air and moves it indoors to warm your home. In contrast, when set to cooling mode, the heat pump reverses this process. This removes heat from the indoor air and releases it outside, thereby cooling your home.

Components of Heat Pump Systems

There are four main components in a heat pump system that work together to make heating and cooling possible. These components include the compressor, condenser, expansion valve, and evaporator. We will explain each of these parts and their roles in the operation of heat pump systems.


The compressor is the heart of the heat pump system. It is responsible for pumping the refrigerant throughout the system, moving it between the indoor and outdoor units. When the refrigerant enters the compressor, it is in a low-pressure, warm gas state.

The compressor then squeezes the refrigerant, raising its pressure and temperature. This high-pressure, hot gas is then sent to the condenser.


The condenser is a heat exchanger, usually located in the outdoor unit of the heat pump system. It functions to remove heat from the refrigerant.

When the high-pressure, hot gas from the compressor reaches the condenser, it’s cooled down by releasing heat to the outdoor air. This process transforms the refrigerant back into a high-pressure liquid, which then moves on to the expansion valve.

Expansion Valve

The expansion valve serves as a critical control point in the heat pump system. Its primary role is to regulate the flow of refrigerant between the high-pressure side of the system (the condenser) and the low-pressure side (the evaporator).

As the high-pressure liquid refrigerant passes through the expansion valve, its pressure drops, causing it to cool down and partially evaporate into a low-pressure, cold mixture of liquid and gas. This refrigerant mixture then flows into the evaporator.


The evaporator is another heat exchanger, typically located in the indoor unit of the heat pump system. In cooling mode, the low-pressure, cold refrigerant mixture in the evaporator absorbs heat from the indoor air. This causes the refrigerant to evaporate fully into a low-pressure gas.

As the refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoor air, the air temperature drops. This process creates cool air that is circulated throughout your home. After the refrigerant has absorbed enough heat, it flows back to the compressor, and the cycle begins again.

How Heat Pump Systems Cool Down a Home

Now that we’ve discussed how heat pump systems work, let’s focus on how they cool down a home. Cooling mode heat pumps are designed to remove heat from the indoor air and release it outside. This process involves a series of steps that take place within the heat pump system, which we’ll explain in this section.

Refrigerant Absorbs Heat From Indoor Air

In cooling mode, the heat pump system starts its cycle with the evaporator, located inside your home. The cold refrigerant flowing through the evaporator absorbs heat from the indoor air, cooling it down.

As the refrigerant takes in heat, it changes from a cold liquid to a warm, low-pressure gas. This process of absorbing heat from the indoor air is what helps cool down your home.

Warm Refrigerant Travels to the Outdoor Unit

Once the refrigerant has absorbed enough heat from the indoor air, it moves to the outdoor unit of the heat pump system. This is made possible by the compressor, which pumps the warm, low-pressure gas through the system. The compressor also increases the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant before it reaches the outdoor unit.

Heat Is Released to the Outdoor Air

When the warm, high-pressure refrigerant gas reaches the outdoor unit, it enters the condenser. The condenser is designed to release the heat absorbed by the refrigerant to the outdoor air.

As the refrigerant gives off heat, it cools down and turns back into a high-pressure liquid. This step is crucial for the cooling process because it helps the heat pump get rid of the heat it has taken from your home.

Cooled Refrigerant Returns to the Indoor Unit

After the refrigerant releases its heat in the condenser, it flows back to the indoor unit through the expansion valve. The expansion valve lowers the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant, turning it into a cold mixture of liquid and gas.

This cold refrigerant then enters the evaporator, where it absorbs more heat from the indoor air, and the cooling cycle starts again. By repeating this cycle, the heat pump AC system continuously cools your home and maintains a comfortable temperature.

Benefits of Using Heat Pump Systems for Cooling

There are several advantages to using heat pump systems for cooling your home. Especially when compared to traditional air conditioning systems. Here are some of the key benefits:

Energy Efficiency

Heat pumps are known for their energy efficiency because they don’t generate cool air but instead move heat from one place to another. This process requires less energy than traditional air conditioning systems, which can help reduce your energy bills.

Cost Savings

As heat pumps are more energy-efficient than traditional air conditioning systems, they can save you money on your energy bills over time. Additionally, since heat pumps can both heat and cool your home, you won’t need separate systems for heating and cooling. This can also save you money on equipment and installation costs.

Environmentally Friendly Option

Heat pumps are considered to be an environmentally friendly cooling option. This is because they use less energy than traditional air conditioning systems. By consuming less energy, heat pumps produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions which can help reduce your home’s carbon footprint.

Dual Functionality

One of the key benefits of heat pump systems is their ability to both heat and cool your home. This dual functionality means that you only need one system to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home throughout the year. This versatility is particularly useful in places like Edmonton, where temperatures can vary greatly between seasons.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Heat Pump System

When deciding on a heat pump system for your home, it’s essential to consider several factors to ensure you choose the best option for your needs. Here are some important factors to keep in mind when selecting a heat pump system.

Size of the Home

The size of your home is a critical factor when choosing a heat pump system. A system that is too small may not provide adequate cooling, while an oversized system may consume more energy than necessary. It’s important to consult with a professional to determine the correct size of the heat pump system for your home.

Climate and Temperature Requirements

The climate and temperature requirements of your area will also influence your choice of a heat pump system. Different types of heat pumps work better in specific climates, so it’s essential to select a system that is suited to Edmonton’s weather conditions.

For example, some heat pumps may be less efficient in colder climates, while others are designed to perform well in both heating and cooling modes.

Energy Efficiency Ratings

When comparing a heat pump vs. AC, one significant advantage of heat pumps is their energy efficiency. However, not all heat pumps are equally efficient. Look for heat pumps with high energy efficiency ratings, SEER, HSPF and COP along with the ENERGY STAR label, which will help you save on energy costs in the long run.

Installation and Maintenance Needs

Each type of heat pump system has different installation and maintenance requirements. Some systems, like air-source heat pumps, may be easier to install and maintain, while others, like ground-source heat pumps, may require more complex installation processes. It’s important to consider the installation and maintenance needs of the heat pump system when making your decision.

Budget Considerations

Lastly, your budget will play a crucial role in determining the heat pump system you choose. It’s true that heat pump systems can be more expensive than traditional air conditioning systems. But they can also save you money on energy costs over time.

Be sure to consider both the initial cost of the system and the potential long-term savings when making your decision.

Your Trusted Partner in Heat Pump Systems

Heat pump systems are an efficient and versatile solution for heating and cooling your home. With their energy-saving capabilities and ability to adapt to Edmonton’s fluctuating temperatures, it’s no wonder more homeowners are choosing heat pump systems.

When it’s time to upgrade or install a new system, trust the professionals at Canadian Climate Control Services LTD. to guide you through the process and ensure your home is comfortable year-round. Contact us today to learn more about our heat pump services and discover the best solution for your home.

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