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

image of an air conditioner compressor

When choosing an HVAC system for your home, it’s best to study the various options available before making a decision. The most common strategy is to use an air conditioner in the summer and a furnace in the winter. However, homeowners can also look at alternatives such as the use of a heat pump throughout the year. In this article, we compare the air conditioner vs. heat pump. We discuss their similarities, differences, and ideal usage scenarios.

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How Are Heat Pumps and Air Conditioners Similar?

As cooling solutions, heat pumps and air conditioners are remarkably similar. They work essentially the same way using the same parts. Both of them absorb heat from the inside of the house and dump this outside through several cycles. They depend on a refrigerant for heat transfer and a compressor to keep the cycles going. The result is a gradual cooling of the interiors until the desired temperature has been reached. The system then pauses until the temperature goes back up again and the cycle continues. These cooling systems are highly efficient and effective.

Differences Between A Heat Pump And Air Conditioner

heat pump refrigeration cycleNow comes the interesting part. How do they differ? In one important way: heat pumps have a valve that can change the direction of the refrigerant. When you flip a switch, they will start to gather heat from the outside of a house and dump this inside. The refrigerant flows in reverse but the cycle is still the same. This is useful in the colder months when you want to heat up the home.

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Which HVAC System Is Right For You?

1. Cost To Purchase And Install

image of person calculating hvac system costs

When people look for a low-cost cooling system, then they tend to opt for a window-type air conditioner. However, these may cost less initially but they have high operating costs. They are highly inefficient, noisy, and create the perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria. A heat pump will require an indoor and outdoor unit with the latter being quite costly to acquire and install. However, you have to consider the fact that you are getting a cooler and a heater in one package so the additional expense may be worth it if you need that feature. The actual amount that you will have to spend initially will largely depend on your home’s heating and cooling requirements.

2. Energy Efficiency And Cost To Operate

image of energy efficiency and hvac system

Heat pumps compare favorably against air conditioners in terms of energy efficiency. Both of these cooling systems can reach high SEER ratings. This acronym stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio which is a measure of the cooling output per electrical input. Higher is always better as it means that they can cool a space down while using only a small amount of energy. This translates to lower operational cost throughout their service life.

When it’s time to switch from cooling to heating, it gets a bit more complicated. Heat pumps work well in environments where the temperature doesn’t drop too low below freezing. They can heat up a home using electricity in an efficient manner throughout winter. However, they may not be adequate in places that routinely see bone-chilling temperatures. An additional furnace can solve the problem but this hybrid system may prove more costly than a furnace-air conditioner pair.

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3. Heat Pump And AC Unit Lifespan

family spending time at home with a new air conditioning system

Any kind of HVAC equipment will cost a considerable sum so you need to consider how long each can serve you. Air conditioning units typically last for a longer period than heat pumps due to their length of use. ACs are only needed for the hotter months while heat pumps are used throughout the year. The latter is certain to succumb faster to wear and tear. Longevity can be increased through regular tune-ups by professional HVAC technicians.

Ask An HVAC Expert To Find The Best System For Your Home

hvac contractor with air conditioner with whole-house dehumidifier

Initial HVAC system installations and replacements are expensive projects that have profound effects on the family’s comfort. Make sure that you are properly informed about all your options. Consult an HVAC professional so you can ask every question on your mind and get satisfactory answers. This is the best way to arrive at an intelligent decision. You won’t have any regrets.

Expert HVAC contractors have rigorous training and years of experience under their belt. They possess the knowledge and skills necessary to guarantee that your needs are met. They will help you select heating and cooling systems that are energy efficient and reasonably priced. These will provide your family with excellent indoor air quality and year-round comfort.

Schedule an estimate with a trusted HVAC company if you want more information on system selection today. Every case is unique so discuss your particular situation with a competent HVAC professional such as Point Bay Fuel.

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There is a lot of confusion about heat pumps and air conditioners. In this article, we learned that they have similar cooling methods, efficiencies, and performance. Heat pumps are more versatile with their ability to change direction and act as a heat source. In moderate climates, they can serve as excellent heating systems. Just make sure to have them tuned up annually to lengthen their life span. Talk to a local heating and cooling company to examine your options so that you can acquire your ideal system with confidence.

Call Point Bay Fuel For All Of Your HVAC Requirements

Point-Bay-Fuel-LogoPoint Bay Fuel offers superior heating and cooling services in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, New Jersey. We hire the best NATE certified technicians who can provide you with excellent HVAC tune-ups, repairs, installations, and replacements. Each of our techs has the knowledge and experience to service your HVAC system correctly.

Point Bay Fuel guarantees the most competitive heating and cooling service costs in the area. Our maintenance services can improve your comfort, increase your energy efficiency while reducing your home cooling costs. If you happen to need an HVAC repair or replacement system, we can recommend the best one for your home while staying within your budget. We back all of our work with a guarantee to ensure your satisfaction. To schedule a service appointment, give Point Bay Fuel a call today. We offer free, in-home estimates.
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