In areas where the need for heating and cooling is moderate, heat pumps help to save money on energy bills -- as much as 40 percent over an electric furnace, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Heat pumps also offer heating and air conditioning in a single unit.
Air source heat pumps are the most common and least expensive type of heat pump to install. In areas where heating or cooling needs are greater, ground source heat pumps are an option and more efficient to operate. These systems move heat from a cooler space to a warmer space. They operate like a refrigerator, using a compressor, evaporator and condenser.
For many years, installing a heat pump in a house without existing ductwork was difficult. However, as of 2015, mini-split heat pumps allow installation without ducts. In these systems, the installer runs copper pipes through walls delivering the compressed, liquid coolant to evaporator units in separate rooms. The process requires drilling small holes instead of installing large ducts. The systems offer similar efficiency to a standard heat pump.
Absorption heat pumps are another option for residential use. These systems use gas or other fuels to create heat as their energy source, reports the U.S. Department of Energy.