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Do Heat Pumps Purify Air? Yes! Learn How Heat Pumps Improve Air Quality

Do Heat Pumps Purify Air? Yes! Learn How Heat Pumps Improve Air Quality

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends about 90% of their time indoors. Needless to say, building air quality is an important consideration. That’s especially true for building owners in New York City and other Northeastern metropolitan areas. One Johns Hopkins study found that 17% of children in the Northeast had an asthma diagnosis—the highest rate of any area in the United States. 

Pollutants like particulate matter and allergens are known contributors to asthma and other respiratory conditions, and building-appropriate filtration systems can remove many of these particles. Recent research shows that air circulation may also help to reduce the spread of viruses including COVID-19. (The EPA notes that improved air quality should be part of a larger protection plan.) 

Unfortunately, traditional HVAC systems may increase the concentration of airborne pollutants, particularly when they’re poorly maintained. Heat pumps, which provide both heating and cooling without fossil-fuel combustion, are an air-friendly alternative. Our customers often ask us several questions when planning their projects: 

  • Do heat pumps purify air, and, if so, are they more effective than traditional combustion-based HVAC systems? 
  • Do heat pumps have air filters, and if so, are they easy to maintain? 

The answer to all of these questions is “yes.” In this article, we’ll explain how heat pumps help people breathe easier — and why modern air source heat pumps are a worthwhile investment for building owners.

Improve your building’s air quality with an eco-friendly heat pump system. To find out if BlocPower is available in your area, enter your address here.

How do heat pumps purify air?

Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling by using ambient air from the outdoors. An outdoor unit gathers heat energy from the air, while an indoor unit acts as either a condenser or evaporator to maintain comfortable temperatures. These systems work similarly to refrigerators, but with advanced components that allow them to function efficiently, even in cold climates.

Compared with fossil-fuel systems, heat pumps have several major advantages for air circulation, including:

Heat pump indoor units have easy-to-clean filters.

All air source heat pumps have easily replaceable air filters. Modern heat pump systems can be outfitted with plasma filters, ionic filters, and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to improve air quality at the point of delivery.

For the best possible air quality, building owners should look for filters with a high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) rating, which measures the effectiveness of the air filter; higher ratings indicate finer filtration. 

Heat pumps purify air at the point of delivery.

Heat pumps can deliver hot or cold air through ducts, but many systems are ductless. Ductless air purifiers can remove pollutants extremely effectively, since the purified air doesn’t need to travel far to reach its destination. 

Heat pumps control humidity. 

Common air pollutants may become more concentrated in environments with high temperatures and humidity levels. Heat pumps act as dehumidifiers when cooling and modern ASHPs are more effective at dehumidifying indoor air than traditional air conditioning systems. 

Although ambient air can naturally lose moisture in fall and winter seasons, heat pumps don’t remove moisture when heating. As a result, building residents enjoy comfortable humidity levels throughout the year.

Heat pumps can eliminate pollutants that travel through HVAC ducts. 

Even when ducted, heat pump air purifiers are more effective than oil-, coal-, and gas-fired options. Combustion-based heating systems output harmful flue gases like sulfur dioxide and even when these systems are located in a basement and vented properly, pollutants from the combustion process can travel throughout the building. 

Additionally, if a traditional HVAC system vents pollutants outside, a portion of the dirty air will return to the indoor environment through open windows or by traveling through wiring, piping, and any other systems that pass through the building. 

Heat pumps don’t create this problem, since they don’t burn fuel to generate heat. Instead, they use a refrigerant that remains contained within the system for its entire operating lifespan.

Improve your building’s air quality with an air source heat pump system from BlocPower.

Heat pumps are excellent air purifiers. By constantly circulating air, the systems provide dependable improvements in indoor air quality. And the benefits don’t stop there—they’re much more sustainable and cost-effective than fossil fuel systems.  

BlocPower specializes in air source heat pump system design and installation. Since 2012, our team has completed energy projects in nearly 1,000 buildings and our proprietary software provides building owners with advanced monitoring tools for tracking energy consumption and optimizing efficiency.

If you’re ready to save 20–40% on energy costs—and provide your tenants with dependable indoor air quality—BlocPower is ready to help.  Get started by answering a few quick questions about your building.