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Is a Heat Pump an Efficient Way to Cool Your California Home?

Bear Valley Plumbing & Heating


Summer is nearly here, and cooling your home efficiently is probably on your mind. Suppose your air conditioning system isn’t living up to your expectations or is getting on in years. In that case, it’s time to consult with an experienced Heating and Cooling Contractor in Big Bear, California. You may not realize that a heat pump is an exceedingly efficient option for cooling California homes.


Heat Pumps

The technology behind heat pumps has dramatically improved over the last decade, and they provide both energy-efficient cooling and heating. In fact, heat pumps can efficiently provide warmth in weather up to -5 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that, in California, a heat pump will efficiently and effectively cool your home and replace your heating system entirely. Such a switch will help you reduce your energy costs and decrease your overall emissions (compared to a traditional gas furnace).

What Is a Heat Pump?

Heat pumps provide efficient heating and cooling in one convenient unit. In general, these systems warm your home or business by absorbing heat energy from the air outdoors and directing it into your living space. Conversely, they absorb the heat energy in your home during the warmer months and direct it outside. These units are typically connected to a ductwork system that directs the warm air, depending on the season.

Is a Heat Pump or an Air Conditioner a Better Option for cooling Californian homes?

The major difference between an air conditioner and a heat pump is that the heat pump can reverse the air conditioner’s cooling process and, thereby, also heat your home or office. The term heat pump typically only refers to a system that can provide you with both a heating and cooling process.

Types of Heat Pumps in California

A heat pump uses a house as either a base or sink, and it essentially extracts from the source to dump it in the sink. It works just like an air conditioner; it cools your Californian home by removing thermal energy from the source, making the source cooler. When it reverses itself, your house becomes the sink and receives the thermal air outside. This reversibility is why a heat pump cools and heats your home.

Your sources and sinks determine the cost of your system, so let’s look at some common sources and sinks to cool your home in California.


Here are some common sources you should learn about.


Air source heat pumps work by drawing out hot air from a room and expelling it outside to cool a room. In reverse, it expels the cold air into a room and sends hot air in. Of course, there’s hardly hot air anywhere in freezing weather, but heat pumps can convert the air to a reasonably hot temperature. Often, it uses more energy in heating than cooling.

There are several types of air-source heat pumps, such as duct, semi duct, or ductless. This refers to the vent installation required for the heat pump to run through your home.

There are also split or packaged heat pumps, and this refers to whether the coils and fans of the heat pump are inside or outside.

Then there’s also multi-zone and single zone, which refers to how many rooms a heat pump can cater to at a time.


Geothermal heat pumps are more efficient and powerful than air-source heat pumps, and they are usually used for cooling homes in more frigid places.

Geothermal heat pumps refer to heat pumps that use the ground or a nearby body of water as their source. Ground and water have a more stable temperature than air, so a geothermal system’s operating cost or energy consumption is lesser than an air source heat pump.

Geothermal heat pumps are more suited to frigid temperatures that require a stronger source to cool the air. While their installation is more expensive, they have a few advantages:

  • They can reduce energy use by 30-60%.
  • They are highly reliable and guarantee satisfaction.
  • They are suitable for different climates and home structures.

Before installing a geothermal heat pump in your California home, ensure technicians check your lot, landscape, and subsoil to see if it works for you.


Gas fuelled heat pumps, or gas-fired pumps, use heat as their energy source. They rely on several heat sources, such as the combustion of natural gas, air, geothermally heated water, etc.

While compression pumps simply use mechanical energy, gas-fuelled heat pumps are more complex and have larger units. They are also referred to as Absorption Heat Pumps (AHP).

How a Heat Pump’s Cooling System Works in California

The mechanical heartbeat of a heat pump is its compressor. This compressor is filled with a refrigerant comprised of a blend of chemicals that can efficiently shift back and forth between a liquid and a gas. This electrically powered compressor goes to work on the refrigerant while it is in vapor form and transforms it into a highly pressurized hot gas. As the system progresses, the hot gas travels through a cooling system:

  • The hot gas leaves the compressor and enters the reversing valve.
  • The hot gas is directed toward the unit’s outside coils.
  • The hot gas moves through the coil while a fan cools it.
  • The gas enters a metering device (the expansion valve) that cools it further and returns it to a vapor state.
  • As this vapor moves through the unit’s inner coils, it absorbs heat energy from your home’s indoor air, which is cooled in the process and that comes out the unit’s other side as cool air.
  • Once the lower-pressure refrigerant absorbs enough heat to return to a gaseous state, it begins the process all over again.

It’s a lot, but suffice to say, that heat pumps are highly efficient at effectively cooling and heating your home or business.

Major Benefits of Using Heat Pumps for Cooling Californian Home

Certain benefits exist for using heat pumps to cool your home. In this section, we have highlighted some of them.

Energy Saving

The number one reason you should consider getting a heat pump is the energy-saving capacity. The actual savings will depend on your local climate, the size and type of pump, and control strategy.  However, there will be a significant difference once you install a heat pump to cool your California home.


Heat pumps have higher efficiency than traditional systems like air conditioners, furnaces, electric baseboards, and coilers. They compile a lot of functions in a smaller system and have increasingly helpful technology.


Heat pumps are versatile and can reverse function. Instead of getting several different systems to run your heating and pumping needs, a single powerful heat pump can cool and heat your home and even boil your water.

Health Advantages

Heat pumps work more cleanly. They improve the air quality in your home by filtering the air and dehumidifying your home.

More importantly, there are little to no dark fossils used when heat pumps operate, so reduced noxious fumes are being released into the air. This is good for both short-term and long-term climate action.

Heat Pumps in California

Heat pumps have improved dramatically over the years. It used to be that heat pumps simply couldn’t keep up when temperatures dropped significantly, and people living in colder climates needed to have backup heating systems installed. However, this issue has been eliminated even in the most frigid climates.

The fact is that the outdoor temperature significantly effects the efficiency of heat pumps. This is why heat pumps are especially well suited to moderate climates like California’s and why a heat pump is a great option for residents of California who are looking for an efficient and reliable way to both heat and cool their homes. Heat pumps are typically both more cost and energy-efficient than are electric or fuel systems.

Additional Features for Your Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are already very cool, but they keep improving as technology advances. Some additional features in newer heat pumps can significantly improve your home and make it more energy-efficient.


Desuperheater recovers waste heat accumulated in your heat pump in cooling mode; it then uses it to heat your home water. A desuperheater can heat water more efficiently than your traditional electric water heater.

Scroll Compressors

Some heat pumps now use scroll compressors instead of piston compressors. Scroll compressors use two spiral-shaped compressors whereby one compressor orbits around the other, forcing the refrigerant into smaller spaces.

The advantages are a quieter operation, longer life, and better efficiency. According to Energy Saver, it’s possible that scroll compressors produce up to 15° warmer air than piston compressors when in heating mode.

Two-speed Compressors

These compressors have the helpful ability to operate at exactly the needed temperature at a particular time. Standard compressors usually operate at full speed or not at all, but a two-speed compressor allows heat pumps to operate close to the temperature outside at a particular time and to switch when that temperature changes.

You can save more by not switching your pump on and off. It can also slow down compression wear significantly.

Zone Control Pumps

These heat pumps are used in larger homes to ensure that different rooms can run at different temperatures needed.

Your Cooling Needs

You want to efficiently cool your home, and when the weather changes, you’ll want to efficiently warm your home. A heat pump might be a great choice, but your home’s existing heating and cooling system will play a role in the decision-making process. Depending upon your current system, converting to a heat pump can require laying some groundwork and doing some retrofitting. The money you save in the long run, however, can make up for this initial expenditure. An experienced Big Bear, California, heating and cooling professional will help you explore your options and find the system that is the best fit for you.


Explore Your Cooling Options with an Experienced Big Bear, California, Heating and Cooling Specialist Today

The cooling specialists at Bear Valley Plumbing & Heating in Big Bear, California, have the experience, expertise, and dedication to help you find the cooling system that’s right for you. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 909-675-0983 today.

If you are looking for a Big Bear plumbing, heating & air conditioning contractor, please call (909) 584-4376 or complete our online request form.