How Do Heat Pumps Work in the Winter? Here’s Your Guide from GREE

Source: GREE

If you’re interested in installing a heat pump system in your home, you may be curious how they operate in the winter with low temperatures. Aspects such as their effectiveness in cold conditions, their ability to work in freezing temperatures, and the appropriate steps for maintaining optimal performance throughout the year are all important things to understand. In this article, we'll delve into each of these topics to provide valuable insights for homeowners and commercial properties owners, ensuring you know what to expect from your heat pumps during the winter months.

What is a Heat Pump?

Heat pumps are versatile and energy-efficient HVAC systems designed to provide both heating and cooling for residential and commercial spaces. Instead of generating heat through fuel combustion (a furnace), they work based on the principle of heat transfer - moving heat from one location to another.. By taking advantage of the natural flow of heat from high to low-temperature areas, heat pumps use refrigerant to transfer heat indoors and release the cold outdoors, maintaining a comfortable temperature all year round. The heat pump heat transfer process is much more efficient than the fuel combustion process used by gas furnaces.

During warmer months, heat pumps work in reverse, using refrigerant to extract heat from inside your space and expel it outside to cool the indoor temperature. This dual functionality makes heat pumps an attractive option for year-round climate control, offering an environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to traditional heating and cooling systems. With the ability to work efficiently in various climates, heat pumps have gained popularity among homeowners and businesses looking for sustainable and reliable temperature control solutions.

How Heat Pumps Work in The Winter:

Naturally, you may be wondering “how do heat pumps operate in the wintertime under cold temperatures?” Understanding how heat pumps work in cold weather requires a basic knowledge of the heat transfer process and the refrigeration cycle. Heat pumps operate using a refrigeration cycle, like air conditioners, but with the added ability to reverse the cycle for heating purposes.

As mentioned earlier, heat transfer is the process of moving heat from one location to another. In the case of heat pumps, this involves extracting heat from a cold outdoor environment and transferring it indoors to provide warmth. The refrigeration cycle within a heat pump consists of four main components: the compressor, the condenser, the expansion valve, and the evaporator. While in heating mode, the heat pump extracts heat from the outdoor air through the evaporator, which contains refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs this heat energy and evaporates, transforming into a high-pressure gas. The compressor then increases the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant before it flows to the condenser in the indoor air-handler. Here, the refrigerant releases its heat energy to the indoor air, then the refrigerant flows back to the outdoor unit and the cycle continues, providing warmth to your home even in the coldest conditions. Even in cold weather, ample heat is still present in the outdoor air. Heat pumps can still absorb this heat energy and transfer it to your home, despite the cold outdoor temperatures.

Can heat pumps function in below-freezing temperatures?

If temperatures in your area are below freezing, your heat pump will have to work extra hard to accommodate for the dropping climate. For some heat pumps, this could result in a decrease in efficiency as the heat pump will have to overtime on an ongoing basis. Some heat pump products may require back-up heat sources in case of emergency. This is why it is essential to select a heat pump with a suitable cold climate performance rating to ensure optimal operation during winter months. GREE is proud to offer it the Multi+ Ultra a multi-zone mini-split heat pump system designed to hold up in even the most challenging climates. This highly efficient multi-zone heat pump system features a “unique to GREE” 2 stage / 3 cylinder variable speed compressor that enables optimal comfort even when faced with temperatures as low was -31°F and as high as 115°F. It also comes equipped with innovative features such as corrosion-resistant, acrylic resin coil coating to maintain energy efficiency no matter how cold it gets. Make sure you consult with a GREE certified HVAC specialist so they can help you select a system that will keep your home at an ideal temperature all year round regardless of your climate – You can find one using our contractor locator tool.

Advantages of Using Heat Pumps in Winter

Using heat pumps in winter offers several advantages for homeowners, making them an attractive option for those looking to maintain a comfortable and energy-efficient home during the colder months. Here are some of the key benefits of using heat pumps in winter:

Energy Efficiency

Heat pumps are known for their energy efficiency, as they transfer heat from the outdoors to the indoors instead of generating it through fuel combustion. This means that they use significantly less energy compared to traditional heating systems such as furnaces and boilers. By choosing a heat pump, you can reduce your energy consumption and save on your heating bills during the winter months.

Low Environmental Impact

Heat pumps are an environmentally friendly option for heating your home, as they do not produce the same direct greenhouse gas emissions associated with burning fossil fuels. Opting for a heat pump can reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a greener future.

Heating and Cooling Dual Functionality

Heat pumps offer both heating and cooling capabilities, making them a versatile option for year-round climate control in your home. In the winter, they work to extract heat from the outdoor air and transfer it indoors, while in the summer, they reverse the process and transfer heat from indoors to outdoors. This dual functionality simplifies your home's climate control system, reducing the need for separate heating and cooling equipment.

Improved Air Quality

Heat pumps help improve indoor air quality by circulating and filtering the air in your home. This can reduce allergens and pollutants, leading to a healthier living environment. Heat pumps do not produce combustion by-products such as carbon monoxide, further contributing to improved indoor air quality. Lastly, traditional HVAC systems can circulate dust and debris that collects in the ductwork – The lack of ductwork in mini-split heat pump systems means this is one less thing to worry about.

Lower Installation Costs

When comparing the installation costs of heat pumps and gas furnaces, heat pumps generally have lower costs. Installing a gas furnace often requires additional work, such as setting up gas lines, installing vents, and ensuring proper safety measures are in place. On the other hand, heat pumps are less complex to install, as they don't require gas lines or ductwork. The simplified installation process can lead to reduced labor costs and a quicker installation timeframe, ultimately saving you money upfront.

Reduced Monthly Bills

In terms of ongoing monthly expenses, heat pumps can also provide significant savings. As mentioned earlier, heat pumps are more energy-efficient than gas furnaces, which means they require less energy to operate. This results in lower monthly utility bills, especially during the colder months when heating is in high demand. While the exact savings will depend on factors such as the efficiency of your heat pump, local energy prices, and your home's insulation, many homeowners find that their monthly bills are lower with a heat pump compared to a gas furnace.


Because heat pump systems are so energy efficient, there are massive rebates and incentives aimed at getting heat pump systems in more homes to reduce the environmental impact of air conditioning throughout the country. Take a look at GREE’s heat pump rebates to see how much you can save!

GREE's heat pumps offer an energy-efficient and versatile solution for maintaining a comfortable indoor environment during winter. Their ability to extract heat from cold outdoor air and effectively heat your home even in extremely low temperatures makes them a fantastic alternative to traditional gas furnaces. Additionally, GREE heat pumps provide cost advantages in terms of installation and ongoing monthly bills, as well as cost savings through rebates, further adding to their appeal as a heating solution. GREE also keeps an ample supply of heat pump replacement parts available so that you can keep your HVAC system running optimally year-round.

If you have questions about how GREE heat pumps work in the winter or need assistance in choosing the right system for your home, be sure to consult with a certified GREE HVAC installation specialist in your area. They will be able to guide you through the process and help you select the best heating option to keep your home warm and comfortable all winter long.