A technician installing a heat pump condenser unit outside next to a pool in a backyard

Heat pumps are a more cost-efficient and eco-friendly home HVAC option. Using heat transfer, these systems can provide both heating and cooling.

But for those thinking about installing a new heat pump, one question remains—does a heat pump also dehumidify year-round?

How Heat Pumps Dehumidify a Room

Heat pumps work by transferring heat from one area to another. They accomplish this by using refrigerant, just like a central air conditioner. The refrigerant absorbs heat and the system moves it either outside or inside.

On cooling mode, the heat inside your home is removed by the refrigerant and expelled outside at the condenser. 

On heating mode, the system finds heat in the ambient air around the condenser outside and moves it in. Surprisingly, this can work in weather as low as -15° F. It might not seem like it, but there is actually heat in the outdoor air, even in low temperatures.

While these systems are not dehumidifiers, they do remove humidity from the indoor air on cooling mode. This is a natural part of air conditioning, as moisture levels drop when air temperature does.

A newer mini-split compressor outside the exterior of a home

Dehumidifcation during the winter months isn’t normally a problem. In fact, most people in colder climates will have the opposite issue: too low humidity. However, most heat pumps have a “dry mode” that will help dehumidify your indoor air if needed, even during the winter.

Issues That Could Prevent Your Heat Pump Reducing Humidity

If everything is working correctly, your heat pump should take enough humidity out of the air to keep you comfortable. If you live in a climate with extreme humidity levels, you may need to invest in a separate dehumidifier. 

If you have a system with ductwork, you can get a whole-home dehumidifier. Alternatively, you can find portable dehumidifiers at most home and hardware stores. 

However, if your heat pump has previously maintaining your home humidity levels and you are suddenly experiencing issues, you might have to call a service professional.

Issues that could be affecting your heat pump include:

  • Your unit is too big or small for your home
  • Poor home insulation
A technician applying metal-backed tape to an cylindrical duct to prevent air duct leakage
  • The unit has a refrigerant leak
  • Your evaporator or condenser coils needs cleaning
  • Weak compressor
The evaporator coil of an air conditioner in the grass outside a home

Why High Humidity Is a Problem

High humidity makes us feel physically uncomfortable, partly because moisture plays a significant role in how we sense air temperature. It can create oppressive dampness that leaves us feeling more easily exhausted. And, of course, it causes us to sweat more.

When air humidity is above 60%, your home suffers as well. Mold, mildew, and other allergens grow much faster in humid conditions

Wood will naturally absorb moisture in the air, contributing to wood rot and damage from warping.

Even if you don’t suffer from allergies, a high presence of mold and mildew can create respiratory problems.

Most furniture and upholstery release chemicals used in the manufacturing process, albeit in tiny amounts that are difficult to notice. These accumulate in a humid environment, causing detrimental health effects.

If left unchecked, high humidity can be fatal. It’s also hazardous if you have pre-existing respiratory health conditions. Fortunately, you can combat high humidity by improving and maintaining air circulation in your home.

Advantages of Using a Heat Pump

Heat pumps are popular alternatives to traditional furnace and AC combinations for a reason. They aren’t right for every situation but they can be optimal if you live in the right climate.

However, if you still need more reasons to switch to a heat pump, consider the following benefits:

  • Lower operational costs – heat pumps use heat transfer, meaning they do not need to create heat. This means they do not require oil or gas to run.
  • Greater energy efficiency – what little electricity a heat pump uses is dwarfed by the amount of warm and cold air it generates. For this reason, homeowners looking to reduce their environmental impact turn to heat pumps.
  • Heating and cooling with a single system – central HVAC systems need both a furnace and an air conditioner, while heat pump systems rely on one, single unit.

Disadvantages of Using a Heat Pump

While powerful and convenient, heat pumps come with obstacles that can pose quite a problem depending on your climate.

  • Heat pumps experience more challenges in colder climates – they work by pulling warm air out of the ground, where the temperature is higher than above the surface. However, the system struggles to function if temperatures drop below 0°F (-17.8°C). 
    The evaporator coil could also freeze and cease to work while prolonged exposure to low temperatures could cause extensive damage. Therefore, check the temperature range of your region. 
A mini-split compressor unit outside a home in wintery conditions
  • A power outage will knock your system out – while heat pumps don’t rely on fossil fuels, they need electricity. So if there’s a power outage in your area, you’ll be without your HVAC system for the duration. 
    The only way to avoid this is to have an emergency generator. Though the extra cost can be hard to justify on top of the installation fee, you will need to decide if it’s a risk you are comfortable living with.


Heat pump HVAC systems are an excellent way to cool, heat, and dehumidify your home. A well-maintained heat pump can control nearly every aspect of your home’s climate. 

All you need to do is ensure that air isn’t escaping from your house in a way that it shouldn’t. 

Once you do, your heat pump will work at maximum efficiency, making your living space comfortable all year round. 

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