Ever go down the health and beauty isle at your local grocery store and notice how sometimes you can get shampoo and conditioner in the same bottle, a two-in-one kind of deal? Or how on a few isles over they have jars of peanut butter with the jelly already swirled in there? Well, this is exactly how a heat pump system is set up.
Heat pumps contain BOTH an air conditioner and a heater within one housing, and this is why, if you've ever seen one in person, they are larger than an average cool-only system. But with what we've already learned about heating and the refrigeration cycle, how in the world can one thing do both? Simply put: whereas your air conditioner pulls warm air out of your house to cool it, in reverse, heat pumps pull warm air out of the outside environment and send it into your home. However, in extremely sustained cold temperatures, there is usually an auxiliary form of heat, such as a furnace back up, to make sure that warm is produced. But, since Mississippi never gets the same kind of winter as our neighbors to the north (think Michigan/Wisconsin), heat pumps are a totally viable option for our more temperate cold weather.