What Is The Difference Between A Heat Pump And An Air Conditioner?

Are you debating on what heating and cooling option is right for your home? A common question that is asked by homeowners is: “Should I invest in a heat pump or a central air conditioning system?” This is a valid question, and the answer depends on some factors. How much heating and cooling you will need throughout the year and the temperatures surround where you live.

Both a heat pump and an air conditioner both operate very similarly in how they heat or cool your home and they both work using similar technology.

  • Air Conditioners:  Your central air conditioning is a closed loop system that circulates refrigerant to cool the air. Your air conditioner takes the hot air from inside your home and breaks it down from a gas to a liquid. This liquid is then used and evaporated to provide the cooling for your home. Your air conditioner will loop this cycle until your home reaches the ideal temperature set by a thermostat. Your air conditioning unit is what is used to cool your home during the hot summers.
  • Heat Pumps: can cool and heat your home, so because of the heating feature the heat pump can be used year round. The heat pump works by pulling heat from the outside air and putting it back in your home for heating during the winter time. The heat pump also has a reverse action of taking inside heat out your home to cool it. Heat pump systems like traditional air compressor systems have units outside of the home. Heat pumps, unlike furnaces, do not burn fuel to produce heat. Instead, they use similar functionality as refrigerators. Liquid running through the unit absorbing heat releases warm air throughout your home.

The two are very similar, and many people ask if that is the case, why not just invest in a heat pump because it can do both. A heat pump can be a real solution for your home, but you should have an HVAC technician come to inspect your home and your living conditions before you make that decision.

What Will Save Me More Money?

A heat pump is more efficient because it can do both heating and cooling. It is also important to understand that because it is more efficient, it will cost more money to install upfront. Heat pumps also come in larger sizes than normal central air conditioners. Air Conditioners can be more compact and fits in tighter spaces.

Should I Choose an Air Conditioner?

If your home is already using a high-efficiency gas furnace for heating and you are happy with the heating it is providing then the best-recommended option would be to invest in an air conditioner. The cost to install will be less than a heat pump, and an air conditioner will cool your home more effectively during the cooling season.

When to Consider a Heat Pump Instead?

You should consider a heat pump if you have no prior heating or cooling systems installed in your home. A heat pump is ideal for climates where the temperatures in the winter do not go below 40 degrees. If your home experiences winter below freezing point, then a furnace will fit your home better. Heat pumps are also a great alternative to inefficient heat sources. If you are currently using an oil based heating system, the heat pump can pay for itself in energy savings alone!

Both Require Maintenance

To ensure the long-term running efficiency of your HVAC equipment, it is important to have a heating and cooling technician perform routine yearly maintenance. This process includes tasks like lubricating parts, changing filters, fixing broken fans and inspect for any refrigerant leaks.

Doing this yearly maintenance for your heating and cooling systems will reduce the need for costly repairs down the road.

Tips to Improve Energy Efficiency?

There are a few quick fixes that will drastically improve your energy costs every year.

  • Getting a programmable thermostat installed will improve your energy efficiency because your home will only heat or cool at designated times you assign.
  • Changing the air filters will help improve your heating and cooling efficiency as the HVAC equipment will have accurate temperatures. Dirty filters block the flow of air in your HVAC unit.
  • Making sure your ducts and vents are not being blocked.
  • As mentioned before having a yearly tune-up will set yourself up for a comfortable summer and winter.

One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® of the Bay Area are experts when it comes to both heating and cooling. We have years of experience installing and repairing air conditioners and heat pumps. Call us for immediate assistance with this problem.