Heat Pump vs. Air Conditioner: Which One is Right for Cooling Your Home

Although heat is included in the name, you can use a heat pump for cooling. It works by moving heat instead of making it (furnaces burn fuel to generate heat) which is why it is used as a dual function unit. It’s true that heat pumps can be very efficient, although most air conditioners are similar in terms of energy efficiency. Just compare these two top of the line systems from Lennox. 

Air Conditioner
Heat Pump

What is SEER and HSPF? 

SEER is an efficiency rating for air conditioners, and the bigger the number, the better it is. The difference between 23.5 and 26 is not astounding though, and the efficiency changes depending on the model. On the other hand, HSPF is a rating system that stands for “heating seasonal performance factor” and is unique to heat pumps. It tells you how efficient the system is at heating. We can see from these examples by looking at the SEER rating, air conditioners are almost equal, if not even better depending on the system you choose. The biggest difference between them is that heat pumps can also add warmth to your home while an AC cannot. 

Does climate matter for heat pumps? 

Heat pumps are most effective in warm climates with less severe winters, save for some integrated systems that use heat pumps as a backup, such as with a geothermal system. You should speak with a ACE certified HVAC tech who has experience in your city before getting your heart set on a heat pump. If the equipment just isn’t right for your area, you could have extremely high electric bills. Once the temperature sinks too low, it’s near impossible for the heat pump to draw heat out of the air and it may never hit the temperature setting on your thermostat. This means you might end up running your heat pump non-stop or switching on emergency heat 24/7 during colder months which drives your energy consumption up. 

How does a heat pump compare to a furnace? 

A furnace is a stronger heating system and is necessary for certain chillier climates. That’s because a heat pump has difficulty when the weather hits about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius. As odd as it may sound, during cooler temperatures, a heat pump is purposed to extract heat from the air outside and use it to warm the inside air. Just because the air outside feels cold, there is still a sufficient amount of heat for the heat pump to work properly, but at exceptionally low temperatures there is not ample heat available outside to heat the air inside to high enough temperatures needed to keep warm. So while a heat pump may be great during the heating season for someone in Daytona Beach, someone living in upstate New York with a heat pump would probably also need a furnace for the more extreme temperatures. If freezing temperatures hit and you don’t have a furnace to take over, a heat pump could run for hours trying to keep your home warm enough. 

How to achieve maximum efficiency with your heat pump 

In certain areas, heat pumps can work with geothermal systems, and the heating source is better for the environment as it is not burning fossil fuels and, instead, uses the Earth’s natural temperature to heat and cool. This is a fantastic alternative for specific northern regions, but more land must be available in order to install the needed piping for a geothermal system. 
 
We know, we know – you didn’t need another thing to think about when it comes to home comfort; but, remember, it’s important to examine the pros and cons of each heating and cooling system so you don’t end up buying a system that doesn’t work when extreme temperatures hit, or investing in two systems when one would suffice. 
 
If you can’t decide which system would best fit your needs, call Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing to schedule a no-charge in-home quote. We are happy to answer any and all of your questions to make sure you make the right choice for your home. 

  • How to Choose a Suitable HVAC System

    When it comes to keeping your home comfortable year-round, nothing is more essential than picking out the right heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. This decision affects your daily comfort, monthly utility bills and overall home efficiency. Then again, with so many system... Continue reading

  • Year-End HVAC Maintenance Checklist

    Now that the air turns chilly, you know it’s time to get your home ready for the cooler months ahead. Your heating system is critical to maintaining a cozy, warm setting. A well-maintained furnace supplies the comfort you want while using a smaller amount of energy. Regular inspections also make... Continue reading

  • 2024 Furnace and Air Conditioning Trends

    In the ever-evolving world of home HVAC, keeping up with the latest HVAC trends is crucial for homeowners who want to enhance their home’s comfort and efficiency. As we move into 2024, the HVAC industry continues to innovate, bringing new technologies and trends aimed at changing how residents... Continue reading