Like your refrigerator, heat pumps use electricity to pump refrigerant and transfer heat from one space to another.
When we transfer heat from within our home to the outdoors, we call it "air conditioning". Conversely, when we transfer heat from the outdoors to within the home, we call it a "heat-pump".
Maine uses heating oil to satisfy 80% of its home heating needs. It is also the most reliant state in country for consumption of heating fuel oil for a total annual cost of one billion dollars. Air source heat pumps represent a viable option towards reducing that consumption with half the cost of operation.
Use this heating calculator to figure the cost savings for your home.
Because refrigerant is naturally so much colder than the outdoor temperature on even a very cold day, it actually absorbs heat from outdoors and "boils", transferring the heat it absorbs outside to within your home pumped via copper piping. The refrigerant's physical properties do this naturally, what you pay for is the electricity to pump it from the outdoor compressor/condenser to inside where it can release this heat at the indoor fan coil unit. Because we're using electricity to pump the heat rather than create it (as electric baseboard or resistant heat does), we can typically deliver up to 4 times the heat energy than that we consume! What about cold climate heat pumps?
Come spring and summer, simply reverse the process and put the same system into "cooling mode" and transfer heat from indoors to the outside. For many climates, the advanced technology that goes into these units creates a far more cost effective alternative to either gas or oil-fired units for heat, or a central ducted system for air-conditioning. Slashing energy usage and costs is typical, with most installs paying for themselves in 2-3 years