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From winter warmth to summer cool: The versatility of heat pumps



With summer on its way and the promise of warmer weather, it’s the perfect time to highlight the versatility of heat pumps. If you’re looking for all year round comfort, then a heat pump might be just the solution. Contrary to what their name suggests, heat pumps can both heat your home in the winter and keep it cool during the summer. Let’s delve into the details.


From winter warmth to summer cool: The versatility of heat pumps

How heat pumps work


Heat pumps work by transferring heat from the outside. To explain it very simply, a heat pump moves heat from the environment outside (either the ground or the air), boosts its temperature, moves it inside and then releases it through your central heating system. This system includes your radiators and if you have it, your underfloor heating. 

Although heat pumps are primarily used for heating, certain models, including the Panasonic and Daikin models we install, can reverse this process. They can extract heat from inside your property and release it outside, effectively cooling your home just like an air conditioner.

The reversing valve: key to dual functionality

The reversing valve in a heat pump is crucial for its dual functionality. This valve changes the direction of refrigerant flow, allowing the pump’s refrigerant to absorb heat from inside your home and move it outside when cooling is needed.

While this feature is appealing, especially given the increasingly extreme heat in recent years, there are some considerations to keep in mind.

Cooling mode considerations

When a heat pump operates in cooling mode, the cool air needs an emitter. Although it is technically possible to use radiators and underfloor heating for cooling, without additional controls to manage humidity, this can result in significant condensation. 

Ideally, a fan coil unit is used. In cooling mode, the heat pump circulates chilled water through the fan coil unit. The fan draws warm air from the room over the coil, where the cold water cools it. The cool air is then dispersed into the room, lowering the temperature. The downside to this is the fact that additional drainage is required. 


Pros and cons of a heat pump cooling function


•    Energy efficiency: Heat pumps transfer heat rather than generate it, making them more energy-efficient than traditional air conditioning systems and reducing your carbon footprint.
•    Efficiency at lower temperatures: Heat pumps can provide cooling and heating at lower flow temperatures, increasing their efficiency.
•    Lower running costs: By using less electricity, heat pumps have lower running costs.
•    Dual functionality: Heat pumps offer both heating and cooling, eliminating the need for separate systems and ensuring year-round comfort.
•    Versatility: Heat pumps allow you to heat or cool different rooms at different temperatures. Additionally, fan coil units offer larger heat outputs and save wall space compared to radiators.

•    Higher initial costs: The initial purchase and installation of a heat pump can be higher than a traditional air conditioning system. However, this can be offset by government grants like the BUS grant.
•    Complex retro-fitting: Installing a heat pump for cooling in an existing property can be more complicated due to the potential need for additional drainage for the fan coil units.

Heat pumps offer a versatile and efficient solution for maintaining a comfortable home environment throughout the year. By understanding both the advantages and the considerations, we hope we’ve helped you make an informed decision about whether a heat pump is the right choice for your cooling and heating needs. 

If you are warming up to the idea of installing a heat pump, then the best place to start is with our free heat pump survey. Discover what’s involved and what your free pre-installation heat pump survey will tell you. Read more here.