by Don Ames, www.detectenergy.com, The Energy Spy Insider weekly Free eNewsletter.
The heat pump maintains its great efficiency by recycling refrigerant over and over again. In fact, the Heat Pump is the king of recycling. If you've seen a new, shiny heat pump lately, you would not imagine that you're looking at one of the most efficient recyclers on the planet.
You thought recycling was about pop cans, cardboard, and glass pickle jars, but let's take a look at heat pump efficiency and a new look at real recycling. Heat pumps ( and refrigerators and air conditioners ) take recycling to a whole new level. The process that makes a heat pump work and makes it so efficient has to do with recycling a compound, known as a refrigerant, and recycling it over and over again. A refrigerant it turns out, is the ultimate cardboard.
I'm sure if you tried to recycle cardboard over and over it would look a little dilapidated after a number of turns through the process. At the least, once cardboard was made into cardboard for the 10th time, the amount of cardboard you had remaining would be far less than what you started with. A heat pump, on the other hand, can recycle a refrigerant for years and end up with the same amount as when it started.
The refrigerant used in heat pumps has changed over the years, for a longtime it was simply called Freon. You older folks can remember the magic of Freon, it was regarded as a miracle fluid. But today, new refrigerants have been developed with names like R-22 and HFC-410A - but, by whatever name, this magical fluid has the ability to be recycled many times over and has the ability to release or capture heat.
To maintain Heating and Cooling Efficiency, the appliance moves heat from one location to another using the refrigerant. In this process, one location is heated and the other is cooled. The refrigerant is pumped around and around a series of coils and, with the help of a compressor pump and an evaporator, turns itself from a liquid into a gas and then from a gas back into a liquid. It is this conversion from a gas to a liquid that heats and cools a home and makes the heat pump so efficient.
I call that recycling, turn the liquid into a gas and then recycle it back into liquid - once it is a liquid, then recycle it back into a gas. This process of recycling is what makes the heat pump a very efficient heating and cooling unit. It's great, because no fossil fuels are burned and no megawatts of electricity are consumed.
Instead of heating a home by burning natural gas or propane and then blowing the hot air into the house or using electric resistant strips, blowing air over the red hot strips and then blowing the warmed air into the home, why not use the heat pump efficiency method. With this method, a small electrical powered pump pushes a refrigerant around and around in a copper tube and handles both heating and cooling. It's like recycling, only better.
Heat Pump Efficiency is kind to the environment, often eligible for rebates and incentives, sometimes a recipient of State and Federal tax credits, and simply one of the least expensive ways you can heat and cool your home. And just think, all because a refrigerant likes to be recycled.
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