Article • May 07, 2024

Yes, heat pumps cool your home, too

Heat pumps are a brilliant, all-in-one solution for heating and cooling your home, and they don’t need fossil fuels to do it.

An increasing number of homeowners are investing in heat pumps to heat and cool their living spaces. And that might be confusing to you — understandably. The phrase “heat pump” implies heating alone, but it’s a bit of a misnomer; heat pumps are an efficient way to both heat and cool. 

You probably already rely on heat pumps in your everyday life. Heat pumps are the foundation of the technology that keeps your refrigerator cool and allows your air conditioner to make the indoors more bearable during a sweltering summer day. Many electric vehicles rely on heat pumps, both to heat the inside of the car and increase the battery’s efficiency in cold weather. 

All of this is to say, heat pumps are a marvel in their own right: They’re a brilliant, all-in-one solution for heating and cooling your home, and they don’t need fossil fuels to do it. Electric heat pumps can do the job of a furnace and an air conditioner.

How heat pumps keep you warm

One essential thing to know about heat pumps: They don’t generate heat. Instead, they move heat from one place to another. Moving heat is much more efficient than generating it, which is why heat pumps are more efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional HVAC systems, like furnaces and central air. 

When it’s cold outside, a heat pump absorbs heat from the outside air using a refrigerant. The refrigerant is compressed (by way of a compressor, which pressurizes the refrigerant and moves it throughout the system), which increases its temperature. Now that the refrigerant is hot, it travels through a condenser coil where it releases heat to warm the air that’s circulating  inside. 

Even when temperatures outside are extremely cold, a heat pump can keep your home warm and comfortable. Heat transfer and refrigeration cycles are the principles that give heat pumps its power. Here’s a breakdown of how that all works: 

  1. Absorption of heat: Even in freezing temperatures, the air contains latent heat energy. The outdoor unit absorbs this heat using a refrigerant.  
  2. Refrigeration cycle: The refrigerant, which just absorbed heat from the outside, is then compressed using a compressor. This significantly increases the temperature of the refrigerant.
  3. Heat release and distribution: The hot, pressurized refrigerant travels through a condenser coil, where it releases the heat to warm the indoor air that’s being circulated within the heat pump. The indoor unit’s fan distributes the warm air throughout the indoor space.  
  4. Do it all over again: After releasing heat indoors, the refrigerant cycles back to absorb more heat from the outside, repeating the process to keep your home cozy and comfortable.
All of this is to say, heat pumps are a marvel in their own right: They’re a brilliant, all-in-one solution for heating and cooling your home, and they don’t need fossil fuels to do it.

How heat pumps cool you down

During the warmer months, a heat pump works just as it does to heat a space, but in reverse. To cool a home, the heat pump absorbs heat from inside and releases it into the outside air. Want the details spelled out? Well, let’s go then:

  1. Absorption of heat: The heat pump’s outdoor unit absorbs heat from the air inside the home, using a refrigerant.
  2. Refrigeration cycle: The refrigerant, which is now carrying the absorbed heat, goes through the compressor, and raises in temperature. 
  3. Heat release and distribution: The hot, pressurized refrigerant travels through a condenser coil in the outdoor unit, where it releases the absorbed heat to the outside air. Because the refrigerant is getting rid of the heat, it cools down. The cold refrigerant now moves to the indoor unit’s coil, where it can absorb the heat from inside. This takes the heat out of the room, thus cooling it down. The indoor unit’s fan distributes the refreshing cool air throughout the indoor space.  
  4. Do it all over again: After cooling down the air indoors, the refrigerant cycles back to release more heat outside, repeating the process to keep your home cool as a cucumber.

How Quilt makes heat pumps even more efficient 

When we talk about energy efficiency, we’re referring to the ability to do a job using less energy. When energy is used efficiently, it doesn’t go to waste, which helps you save costs and help the environment. (Saving energy reduces pollution and conserves natural resources — all good things for a healthy planet.) 

Ductless mini-split heat pumps like Quilt are already incredibly energy efficient. This is, in part, because they don’t generate heat (remember: they transfer it). Many of these systems are equipped with zoning capabilities, meaning you can run a unit in one zone while keeping it off in another. This is really important: Why run the air conditioner in your kids room while they're at school for the whole day?

Quilt levels up this kind of zoning power with its smart technology: The system has occupancy detection, schedules and temperature preconditioning, so it knows which rooms (or zones) it should heat or cool and which ones to leave alone. This built-in efficiency cuts out room for human error; just because you tell your child to turn off their AC before they catch the bus doesn’t mean they’ll always remember to. 

Quilt was designed to shorten your household’s to-do list, making it easier to save energy and money — on autopilot. To learn more about Quilt’s heat pump (that also functions as a cooling system!), check out our Tech Specs.