A heat pump is basically an air conditioner with the ability to heat in addition to cool. Keeping a home comfortable is technically done by moving heat energy. In the summer, a heat pump (and air conditioner) moves heat energy out of your home, and in the winter, a heat pump moves energy back inside.
Let’s take summer for example: when the air in side your home heats up, the thermostat signals the heat pump to begin compressing refrigerant. Refrigerant is a gas, but when it’s compressed, it condenses down to a chilled liquid. The cold refrigerant is pumped inside the home to the indoor coil. Warm air from the home is pulled via the return air duct(s) and forced through the coil. Heat energy is absorbed by the refrigerant, and the process repeats. In the winter, this process is reversed to heat the home.
A gas furnace is the most common choice for heating across America. That’s because natural gas is cheap, and furnaces do a great job at heating. However, in mild winter temperatures a heat pump can still be more efficient than natural gas. Especially for homes in rural areas using propane. With a hybrid system, a heat pump and gas furnace automatically switch depending on outdoor temps. This means more efficient winter heating!