Complete guide to heat pumps
Guía completa sobre bombas de calor

Complete guide to heat pumps

Today, on the Ecoforest blog, we present the complete guide to heat pumps, an ecological option for your home.

Looking for a sustainable and efficient way to heat your home?

Heat pumps have become the leading and revolutionary technology capable of transforming the way we air-condition our homes.

While you are trying to find solutions for other complex day-to-day processes, heating your home in an environmentally friendly and efficient way has become a simple and practical task thanks to heat pumps.

It doesn’t matter whether you are looking to get rid of the winter cold or the summer heat, because this system is based on thermodynamic principles capable of moving heat from one place to another to take advantage of natural sources that allow you to minimise traditional energy consumption.

Whether extracting heat from the air, water or even the ground, heat pumps suit a variety of environments and needs, and offer you an efficient alternative to conventional heating and cooling systems.

With a focus on sustainability, energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction, in this post you will discover the full world of heat pumps so you know which one to choose for your personal situation.

We’ll explore how they work, the different types available, and how they can be a key part of the transition to a greener, more economically viable future for your home.

Whether you’re considering upgrading your current system or simply looking to better understand the green options available, this comprehensive guide to heat pumps is designed to give you a clear and thorough understanding of their transformative potential.

Will you stick around to find out?

Complete guide to heat pumps: an environmentally friendly option for your home

Heat pumps are gaining ground as one of the most effective and sustainable solutions for residential air conditioning.

What is the reason for this?

To their unique ability to extract heat from the natural environment – even in adverse conditions – and use it to heat or cool our homes.

But what exactly makes heat pumps such an environmentally friendly and efficient option for the home?

Its energy efficiency is unparalleled

Unlike traditional heating systems that generate heat by burning fuels or using electric heaters, heat pumps simply transfer heat from one place to another.

This process requires a tiny fraction of the energy that other systems would need to generate the same amount of heat (or cold).

In other words, energy consumption is significantly lower.

This efficiency not only translates into significant savings on your electricity bills, but also a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy generation.

Can be used in any climate

Another advantage of heat pumps is their versatility.

Ya sea que vivas en un clima frío, templado o caliente, existe un tipo de bomba de calor adecuado para tu entorno.

Air-to-water heat pumps, for example, are perfect for most climates, as they are able to extract heat even from cold air and transfer it indoors.

Ground source heat pumps, on the other hand, take advantage of the relatively constant temperature of the ground to provide heating and cooling even more efficiently.

This makes them an ideal choice for locations with extreme outdoor temperatures.

But we will talk about the types of heat pumps later on.

They are much more sustainable than other methods

Sustainability is one of the main reasons why many homeowners are turning to heat pumps.

By harnessing renewable heat sources, such as air, water and ground, they minimise the environmental impact of domestic air conditioning.

This ability to transform the existing energy in the environment into comfort for your home, without the need for fossil fuels, makes heat pumps a key part of the path towards a greener and more sustainable home.

Subsidies or incentives are available for their installation

Governments are increasingly aware of the need for sustainable solutions for our planet, so many of them, along with other entities, offer incentives to install heat pumps.

These can range from subsidies, tax deductions or reduced energy tariffs.

In other words, they help you mitigate the initial cost and accelerate your return on investment.

These incentives, together with the ongoing savings in energy costs, make the transition to heat pumps not only an environmentally friendly decision, but also an economically smart one.

Complete guide to heat pumps bombas de calor, Guía completa sobre bombas de calor

Types of heat pumps: Description of the different types of heat pumps, including air-to-air, air-to-water and water-to-water.

Heat pumps come in a variety of types and each is suited to different environments and air conditioning needs.

So below we explore the features, benefits and optimal uses of the main types of heat pumps.

Air to air heat pump

Air-to-air heat pumps are a common choice for small spaces or commercial premises.

This type of heat pump extracts heat from the outside air and transfers it to the inside of a building for heating.

It can also operate in reverse to provide cooling in summer, extracting heat from the interior and expelling it to the outside air.

Advantages of the air-air heat pump

  • Versatility: They can be used for heating and cooling in a wide range of climates.
  • Relatively low initial cost: Compared to other types of heat pumps, they tend to have a more affordable initial cost, which increases with operating costs because their efficiency is lower than that of air-to-water heat pumps
  • Simple installation: No digging or drilling is required, making it easy to install in most properties. Hot or cold air is blown directly into the room.

Ideal applications

They are suitable for moderate climates where the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures is not extreme. They are also a good choice for small spaces.

Air-to-water heat pump

Air-to-water heat pumps transfer heat between outside air and a water system inside the building and are capable of producing heating in winter, cooling in summer, and hot water for the whole house.

Best of all, they can power underfloor heating systems, hot water radiators or fan coils.

Advantages of the air-to-water heat pump

  • Operability: They work in both hot and very cold climates.
  • Power: produce heating, cooling and hot water for all house sizes
  • Energy efficiency: more efficient than air-to-air pumps and the most cost-effective option in the long term.
  • Flexibility of use: They can be integrated with existing heating systems, which makes them a good choice for renovation projects.

Ideal applications

They are especially beneficial in homes that require both space heating and an efficient water heating solution. They perform best in regions with moderate to cold outdoor temperatures and are ideal for underfloor heating systems or low-temperature radiators.

Water-to-water heat pump

Water-to-water heat pumps use a water source, such as a well or a nearby body of water, or the temperature of the ground to transfer heat through a water system inside the building.

They are the most energy-efficient pumps, but require collection via geothermal wells or through a water source.

How do they work? They extract heat from the water or ground and transfer it to the home’s heating or hot water system.

Advantages of the water-to-water heat pump

  • High energy efficiency: The use of water or the earth as a heat source provides a very constant and efficient source of energy, both in moderate climates and in extreme climates with large temperature variations throughout the year.
  • Sustainability: By using water or ground sources, these heat pumps reduce environmental impact, especially when combined with renewable energy sources.
  • Durability: When installed in boiler rooms inside the house, water-to-water heat pumps last longer than aerothermal heat pumps.

Ideal applications

They are particularly suitable for properties close to natural water bodies, which have access to wells or garden. In addition, Ecoforest water-to-water heat pumps can be combined with fan heaters, so they do not require geothermal wells and can be installed in homes with small gardens or in buildings. Their efficiency makes them ideal for homes that seek maximum energy efficiency and have the necessary infrastructure to support the system.

Geothermal or ground-water heat pumps

The geothermal or ground-water heat pump uses the heat stored in the ground or groundwater for heating and cooling.

In addition, it requires the installation of a heat exchange loop buried in the ground or submerged in groundwater.

Using this system, pumps extract heat from the ground in winter to heat the interior of a building and dissipate the heat to the ground in summer to cool it.

Advantages of the ground source heat pump or ground-water heat pump

  • Superior energy efficiency: By taking advantage of the stable temperature of the ground, these heat pumps offer higher efficiency compared to traditional systems.
  • Environmental sustainability: By using a renewable heat source and reducing dependence on fossil fuels, these pumps are a greener option.
  • Durability and low maintenance: Geothermal systems have a long lifetime and require less maintenance than other air conditioning options.

Ideal applications

They are particularly suitable for areas with space available for geothermal loop installation. Their efficiency and sustainability make them ideal for new projects and renovations that seek to maximise energy efficiency and minimise environmental impact.

Open source geothermal heat pump or hydrothermal heat pump

Open source geothermal or hydrothermal heat pumps are similar to the conventional geothermal heat pump, but instead of using a buried loop, it draws water from an underground well to transfer heat to the building.

After the heat is extracted, the water is returned to the well or a nearby water body.

Advantages of open source geothermal heat pumps

  • Optimised energy efficiency: Direct use of groundwater facilitates highly efficient heat exchange
  • Reduced environmental impact: Similar to other geothermal pumps, these units minimise the carbon footprint.
  • Versatility in application: They are an excellent choice for properties with access to a suitable water source.

Ideal applications

Ideal for installations that can legally and sustainably access groundwater, such as industrial, commercial or residential buildings located on land with suitable hydrogeological characteristics.

Absorption heat pump

Absorption heat pumps are distinguished by the fact that instead of using a mechanical compressor, this type of heat pump uses an absorption refrigeration cycle that employs waste heat, natural gas or another heat source to drive the heat transfer process.

This approach not only offers an efficient alternative for air conditioning, but also allows the reuse of heat sources that would otherwise be wasted.

In other words, they contribute to greater overall energy efficiency and emission reductions.

Advantages of the absorption heat pump

  • Efficient use of alternative heat sources: Capacity to exploit waste or natural heat sources.
  • Emissions reduction: By using cleaner energy, they contribute significantly to the reduction of the carbon footprint.
  • Flexibility in application: They can be adapted to a wide range of environments and air conditioning needs.

Ideal applications

They are especially useful in industrial environments where there is an abundance of waste heat.

They are also a viable option for installations seeking greater independence from fossil fuels and integration with renewable energy systems.

Complete guide to heat pumps bombas de calor, Guía completa sobre bombas de calor

Principles of operation: Detailed explanation of how heat pumps work

Heat pumps operate on the basic principle of heat transfer, moving heat from a source (such as air, water or ground) to a destination (the inside of a home, for example), for heating, or in the opposite direction for cooling.

This process is achieved through a thermodynamic cycle involving several key components: the compressor, the condenser, the evaporator and the expansion valve.

Let’s take an in-depth look at them:


Every heat pump has a heart and this is called a compressor.

Its function is to circulate the refrigerant through the system. That is, it absorbs heat from the environment in the evaporator and is compressed by the compressor, which increases its temperature and pressure.


In the evaporator, the low-temperature, low-pressure refrigerant absorbs heat from the outside (air, water or earth). As it absorbs heat, the refrigerant evaporates and transforms into a low-pressure vapour


The hot, high-pressure refrigerant vapour is fed to the condenser.

Here, the refrigerant vapour releases the absorbed heat back into the home (for heating) or outside (for cooling), condensing back into a liquid as it cools.

Válvula de Expansión

After passing through the condenser, the liquid refrigerant is directed to the expansion valve, where its pressure and temperature drop dramatically.

This low-pressure, low-temperature refrigerant is now ready to absorb heat back into the evaporator, completing the cycle.

Now that you know all that, let’s talk about something that interests us all a great deal. Its energy efficiency.

Complete guide to heat pumps bombas de calor, Guía completa sobre bombas de calor

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is a fundamental pillar in the selection of air conditioning systems, and heat pumps excel in this area thanks to two key metrics: the Coefficient of Performance (COP) and the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER).

The COP measures how effectively a heat pump converts electrical energy into useful heat, with higher values indicating greater efficiency.

For example, a COP of 4 means that for every unit of electricity consumed, four units of heat are generated. The SCOP measures the same efficiency over several months.

On the other hand, the EER and its seasonal variant, the SEER, assess efficiency in cooling mode, where a higher value also signals higher efficiency.

This outstanding efficiency translates into tangible benefits for users and the environment.

Look. Economically, it means a significant reduction in operating costs, as less energy is required to heat or cool spaces, offering noticeable savings in the long term.

Ecologically, it optimises energy use and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to the fight against climate change.

In addition, it ensures optimal comfort in the home by keeping indoor temperatures stable and comfortable in an efficient manner.

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