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Articles by Reporter Shannon Osaka

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This transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The following sentence doesn’t make any sense, but is actually true: A heat pump can turn 1 kilowatt-hour, or kWh, of electricity into up to 4 kWh of heat.

For the home heating and cooling technology known as the heat pump, this means big potential savings both for carbon emissions and for utility bills. Recently, I’ve been looking at two different questions: First, how good are heat pumps for the climate? And second, how much money do they save? 

The term heat pump is actually a little bit confusing. A heat pump is actually a super efficient heating and cooling machine. And the thing about a heat pump is that it doesn’t actually make heat — it moves it. 

That sounds a bit weird, but this is how it works: If your house is too hot, a heat pump can basically take the heat from inside your house and put it outside. That’s exactly the same as an air conditioner. But if your house is too cold, a heat pump can also bring heat from outside into your house. And it can do that even if the outside air is really cold. 

The science here is a little ... Read more

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