A heat pump typically consists of two parts: an indoor unit called an air handler and an outdoor unit similar to a central air conditioner, but referred to as a heat pump. A compressor circulates refrigerant that absorbs and releases heat as it travels between the indoor and outdoor units.
A heat pump works as a heat transporter constantly moving warm air from one place to another, to where its needed or not needed, depending on the season. One advantage of a heat pump is that it moves heat instead of generating heat, giving you more energy efficiency. A supplemental heat source may be needed for lower temperatures.
A furnace is a part of the heating system in which the combustion of fossil fuel and transfer of heat occurs. Furnaces can be fueled by natural gas or oil. Furnaces are good for colder weather climates and many now operate at 95% efficiency which means 95% of the fuel you pay for is converted to heat for your home. When your thermostat calls for heat, the igniter lights the burner inside the combustion chamber. The heat created is then pushed into the heat exchanger where the air is heated. This heated air then moves through your ductwork and into the rooms of your home.
A furnace system typically consists of three parts: the furnace, the coil, and the condensing unit or central air conditioner.
Ductless systems connect an outdoor unit with and indoor unit to heat or cool one specific zone of a home without the use of ductwork. An outdoor unit is placed outside your home and is connected to an indoor unit by small cables and a refrigerant line through a hole in the wall. The indoor unit is typically mounted high on the wall of the room and is pre-set or adjusted by remote control. These systems are great solutions for converted attic space, room additions or anywhere you need to heat and cool a space.
A ductless system has an indoor unit and an outdoor unit. Multi-split systems can connect up to five indoor units to one outdoor unit.
Boilers are special purpose water heaters. While furnaces carry heat in warm air, boiler systems distribute the heat in hot water, which gives up heat as it passes through radiators or other devices in rooms throughout the house. The cooler water then returns to the boiler to be reheated. Residential boilers generally use natural gas or heating oil for fuel.
A boiler systems has the boiler unit and radiators throughout the house. Radiators can be underneath the flooring (radiant heat), along the baseboards, or free standing.
Geothermal systems do not heat or cool your home by burning fossil fuels or using electricity. Instead, they access the near constant temperatures found deep in the earth by circulating water through the earth and through a coil that absorbs or dissipates heat depending on the season. Geothermal units return 4 times the amount of energy that is used to operate the system providing a 400% efficiency and deliver the heating and cooling through standard duct work and/or radiant. Systems can also be configured to provide hot water heating to your home.
A geothermal system has a handling unit and an underground loop system.