When a local HVAC technician suggested that my husband and I install a heat pump into the home we were building, I was skeptical. I had always heard that these systems were unreliable, expensive, and unable to handle colder weather. Over the years, however, the design and engineering of heat pumps has greatly improved. A heat pump is basically just a type of air conditioner that has the ability to run backwards. In the summer months, the system pulls heat out of the inside air and expels it outdoors. It simply creates a cooling effect by lowering the indoor temperature. In the winter, a reversing valve inside of the heat pump takes the heat from outdoors and transfers it inside. Because of this, the colder the outdoor temperature, the less effective the heat pump. Innovations in technology, however, have made heat pumps far more capable of handling lower temperatures. The advantage of a heat pump is that it doesn’t burn fuel to create heat, which eliminates the combustion process. There are no byproducts, such as carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide, which create a health and safety threat. There are no flames, fumes, or hot surfaces, and no greenhouse gas emissions, making the system environmentally friendly. Although a heat pump is rather expensive to purchase and complex to install, it does provide energy savings all year round. I am hoping that the lower operational costs will help us to recover the initial investment within the first five years. I am also counting on a manufacturer’s rebate and tax credits for the installation of an environmentally responsible form of temperature control.