What is the Difference Between An Air Conditioner and A Heat Pump?

image of an air conditioner and a heat pump

Before you choose an HVAC system for your home, you should take the time to consider all of your options. More often than not, people rely on air conditioners to keep them cool in the summer and furnaces to stay warm in the winter. However, you also have the choice of using an alternative like a singular heat pump that’s capable of doing both jobs. This article compares an air conditioner vs. heat pump to show how they’re similar, how they’re different, and in which scenarios they’re best used.

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What Do Heat Pumps and Air Conditioners Have In Common?

As home cooling systems, air conditioners and heat pumps are actually quite similar. They work in much the same way and they use many of the same parts. Each of these units absorbs heat from the inside of the home and then transfers it outdoors via several cycles. Heat transfer is reliant upon refrigerant and the cycles are kept active by a compressor. This leads to a progressive cooling of the interior living space until the desired indoor temperature is achieved. Once this happens, the system pauses its activity until indoor temperatures climb once more, and then it starts back up again and the cycle is continued. Both cooling systems are highly effective and efficient.

How An Air Conditioner And Heat Pump Differ

heat pump refrigeration cycleNow here’s the fun part. Are they different? Yes, in one very important way: heat pumps come with a valve for changing direction. When the switch is flipped, heat pumps will begin to gather heat from the outdoors and then transferring it into the living environment. Although the cycle remains the same, the refrigerant flows in reverse. This is helpful when the weather grows cold and the interior of the home needs to be heated up. You don’t need to install any additional heating equipment given the dual functioning of heat pumps.

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Which Is the Best Cooling System for Your Home?

1. The Upfront and Installation Cost

image of a homeowner calculating costs between air conditioner and heat pump

When homeowners search for affordable cooling systems, they usually go for window air conditioners. Although window AC units might cost less upfront, their operating costs can grow high. They are very inefficient, loud, and they create the ideal breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Heat pumps have both indoor and outdoor units and the outdoor units tend to be expensive to both purchase and install. Notwithstanding this fact, you have to account for the benefits of getting both a heater and a cooler in single system, so the added spending is likely worthwhile, especially if you need both functions in your home. The actual upfront cost that you’ll have to pay for this equipment is largely determined by the cooling and heating requirements of your home.

2. Operational Costs and Energy Efficiency

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Heat pumps measure up to air conditioners when it comes to overall energy efficiency. Both cooling system types can achieve high SEER ratings. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and measures the cooling output in relation to the energy or electrical input. A higher SEER rating is best and indicates that a system can effectively cool down an area with just a very modest amount of energy. Over the course of a system’s service life, this translates as less spending for operation.

When switching from the cooling function to the heating function, things start to get complex. A heat pump will work well in a climate in which temperatures never fall below freezing. They can use electricity to efficiently heat the home in winter. However, with regularly freezing temperatures, they might not be adequate. This problem can be solved by setting an additional furnace up, but having this multi-component, hybrid setup can wind up being more expensive than just using an air conditioner and furnace combination, to begin with.

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3. Heat Pump & Air Conditioner Lifespan

All HVAC equipment can cost a fair amount, so you have to consider the lifespan of different products before investing in them. Air conditioners tend to outlast heat pumps given that they aren’t used as much. Air conditioners are only needed in the late spring and summer, whereas heat pumps can be used all year long in certain homes. As such, a heat pump will sustain a lot more wear and tear as time goes on. You can make a heat pump last a bit longer by having regular, professional tune-ups performed by a trusted HVAC company.


Find The Right System For Your Home By Working With An HVAC Expert

outdoor condenser for air conditioner and HVAC contractor

Replacing or initially installing an HVAC system is expensive and these projects can have a considerable effect on overall home comfort. This makes it important to do your research and make informed decisions. Speak with an HVAC expert to get answers to your questions. This will help you make an intelligent choice. It will also ensure that you don’t wind up having regrets.

Seasoned HVAC technicians have undergone rigorous training and they have extensive amounts of industry experience. They have the skills and knowledge for making sure that your home heating and cooling needs are met. They can help you find the perfect, energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions, and at a reasonable cost. These will additionally promote year-round comfort and suitably high quality of indoor air.

Request an estimate from a trusted HVAC service in your area if you’re ready to learn more about choosing the right system. Each home is unique, so talk about your home heating and cooling needs with a competent HVAC professional.

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Air conditioners and heat pumps cause a lot of confusion. This article has shown that they have similarities in terms of how they cool, how efficient they are, and how well they perform. Heat pumps are a more versatile choice given that they can change direction and heat the home. They are effective heating solutions when used in moderate climates. They must receive annual tune-ups to prolong their lifespan. Speak with a heating and cooling company near you to find out more about your options.

Hart Home Comfort Can Meet Your Air Conditioning Needs

hart-logoHart Home Comfort provides first-rate cooling and heating services for residents of Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Queens, New York. We are staffed by friendly, certified professionals who can handle all manner of HVAC installations, repairs, tune-ups, and more. Their knowledge and experience will ensure that your home heating equipment is properly and correctly serviced.

Hart Home Comfort offers the most competitive service costs for heating and cooling equipment in the region. You’ll get improved efficiency and comfort by choosing our maintenance service. When you need new HVAC equipment installed, our team can help you find it. We always back our work up with a solid satisfaction guarantee. Contact us now to set your appointment. You can also get an in-home estimate at no charge.

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For any questions about what Hart Home Comfort can do for you, give us a call today. Click here to contact us now or call us at (631) 667-3200 to find out more!