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Why is my outside AC unit running during the winter?

My outside AC unit's fan is running during the winter time. I assume this does not need to be happening and is costing me money on my utility bills. I have the heat on. Why is it doing this?

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1 Answer from this member:
Joey S
Your air conditioner is likely a heat pump too. Your outside AC condensing unit is likely running in order to heat your house. The outside unit is likely a heat pump, meaning it has to run in order to produce heat and keep your house warm. It is basically an air conditioner in the summer and it’s a heater in the winter. It can accomplish this by reversing the direction of the Freon flow by using electrically operated valves controlling the Freon through the sealed system. By reversing the flow/direction of Freon, the inside evaporator coil will get hot instead of cold and the outside condenser coil will get cold instead being hot when ever you have the thermostat set for heat.

A heat pump is a device that uses a small amount of energy to move heat from one location to another. Heat pumps are usually used to pull heat out of the air or ground to heat a home or office building, or they can be switched into reverse to cool a building. If you know how an air conditioner, you already know a lot about how a heat pump works, because heat pumps and air conditioners operate in very similar ways.

Heat pumps are a unique kind of heating system, because they can do the work of both a furnace and an air conditioner. Thus, there's no need to install separate systems to heat and cool your home. Heat pumps can also work extremely efficiently, because they simply transfer heat, rather than burn fuel to create it.

Heat pumps work best in moderate climates. If you live in a moderate climate, using a heat pump instead of a furnace and air conditioner may help you save money your utility bill. Most heat pumps are somewhat limited by the cold, however, so it is important that you learn which kind of heat pump is best for your area before installing one in your home or office building. If you install the wrong kind of heat pump, you may end up paying even more in energy costs than you do already.
by Joey S Earned 7,438 community points in Building Supplies
December 17th, 2009
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