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 AC. It works by transferring heat instead of making it (the way a furnace does) which is why it also is used as a heating and cooling appliance. It's true that heat pumps can be very efficient, but most air conditioners are similar in terms of their efficiency. Just look at these two luxury level units from Lennox.
What is SEER and HSPF?
SEER is an efficiency rating for air conditioning systems, and the higher the number, the more efficient it is. The difference between 23.5 and 26 is not great though, and the efficiency differs depending on the model. On the other hand, HSPF is a rating system that stands for "heating seasonal performance factor" and is designed to grade heat pumps. It tells you how efficient the equipment is at heating. You can tell from these examples when comparing efficiency ratings, air conditioners are almost equal, if not even better depending on the AC you choose. The biggest difference between the two is that heat pumps can also heat your home while an AC cannot.
Does climate matter for heat pumps?
Heat pumps are much more effective in warm climates with mild winters, save for some integrated systems that use heat pumps as backups or auxiliary, such as with a geothermal system. You should speak with a ACE certified HVAC tech who has experience in your city before deciding on a heat pump. If the equipment just isn't right for your home, you could have very high electric bills. Once the temperature gets too low, it's difficult for the heat pump to draw heat out of the air and it may never reach the temperature set by your thermostat. This means you could start running your heat pump non-stop or switching on emergency heat 24/7 during cold snaps which drives your energy consumption up.
How does a heat pump compare to a furnace?
A furnace is a more powerful heating system and is critical for certain colder climates. That’s because a heat pump has trouble when the temperature hits about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. As weird as it may sound, during cooler temperatures, a heat pump is purposed to remove heat from the outdoors and use it to raise the temperature of the inside air. Just because the air outside feels cold, there is still a sufficient amount of heat for the heat pump to function well, but at extremely low temperatures there is not sufficient heat available outside to warm the inside air to higher temperatures needed to stay warm. So while a heat pump may work perfectly during the winter months for someone in Daytona Beach, someone living in upstate New York with a heat pump would likely also need a furnace for the more extreme temperatures. If you’re living in those colder climates without a furnace to kick in during freezing temperatures, a heat pump may run for hours trying to make your home warm enough for comfort.
How to achieve maximum efficiency with your heat pump
In many areas, heat pumps can be used with geothermal systems, and the heating source is better for the environment since it is not burning fossil fuels and, instead, uses the Earth’s native temperature to heat and cool. This is a fantastic alternative for certain northern climates, but additional land must be available in order to install the required 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 consider the pros and cons of each heating and cooling system so you don’t end up installing a system that turns off when extreme temperatures hit, or investing in two systems when one would suffice.
If you still aren’t convinced which system is best for your home, call Wesley Wood Service Experts to schedule a free in-home quote. We are here to answer any and all of your questions to ensure you make the right choice for your home.