Heat Pumps vs Air Conditioners – Here Is What You Should Know

heat pumps vs air conditioners

Heat Pumps vs Air Conditioners – Here Is What You Should Know

First, What Is a Heat Pump?

The name “heat pump” is actually somewhat misleading—when in cooling mode, it looks and functions exactly the same as air conditioners. What makes heat pumps unique is their ability to reverse the flow of refrigerant and double as a heating system when the temperatures dip. Instead of extracting heat from the air in your home and transferring it outdoors, these units take heat from the air outside and bring it in. And believe it or not, some heat pumps can efficiently extract heat from temperatures well below zero outdoors.

What’s the Difference Between a Standard A/C and a Heat Pump?

Aside from being both a heating and cooling system, a heat pump and an air conditioner both transfer heat. The difference lies in these key areas:

Installation Cost

Heat pumps cost more up front than central air conditioners. This is because they can work as both a heating and a cooling unit and require a few more mechanical and electrical components to do so. Otherwise, the installation itself is identical to traditional A/C. Also, keep in mind that while a heat pump does provide heat for most of the winter, a furnace is still necessary for extremely cold temperatures.

Energy Efficiency

While a heat pump might cost more initially, it will make up for it in the long run by consuming less energy than a traditional forced air or hydronic heating system. For example, Carrier® Heat Pumps with Greenspeed Technology are proven to be up to 400 percent more efficient than a standard gas furnace. That said, heat pumps can be extremely helpful in reducing heating costs when installed on an oil- or propane-fired heating system.

System Lifespan

Another factor to consider is how long each system will last you. A heat pump’s ability to work almost year-round means more wear and tear on the unit itself, which could lead to more frequent repairs and possibly a shorter lifespan. On the other hand, heat pumps can provide much less run time on the main heating system, as they are the primary source of warmth in milder temperatures. This can be especially helpful with hydronic heating systems.

Still Have Questions? Let Tom’s Experts Steer You Toward Success

Getting a new cooling system is a big investment, and at Tom’s Heating, we want you to make the best decision possible. We’ll lay out all your options for a new unit, whether it’s a Carrier® heat pump or a central air conditioner. If you have more questions about your home’s cooling system—like if a ductless split system is right for you—give us a call at 262-548-1300 or contact us online.

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