Although heat is included in the name, you can use a heat pump for AC. It works by moving heat instead of creating it (unlike furnaces) which is why it is used as a dual function appliance. It's true that heat pumps can be very efficient, but most air conditioners are roughly equivalent in terms of energy efficiency. Just compare these two top of the line systems from Lennox.
XC25 Air Conditioner
up to 26 SEER
ENERGY STAR® Qualified
XP25 Heat Pump
up to 23.5 SEER
up to 10.2 HSPF
ENERGY STAR® Qualified
What is SEER and HSPF?
SEER is an efficiency guideline for ACs, and the higher the number, the better it is. The difference between 23.5 and 26 is not crazy however, 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 system is at heating. We can see from these examples that as far as energy effiency goes, air conditioners are almost equal, if not even better depending on the AC you choose. The largest 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 warmer climates with mild winters, save for some integrated systems that use heat pumps as a backup, such as with a geothermal system. We recommend a consultation with a NATE certified HVAC technician 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 unnecessarily high electric bills. Once the temperature sinks too low, it's much harder for the heat pump to draw heat out of the air and it may never hit the temperature setting on your thermostat. This means you could end up running your heat pump non-stop or switching on emergency heat 24/7 during cold snaps which drives your energy consumption way up.
How does a heat pump compare to a furnace?
A furnace is a stronger heating system
and is critical for certain cooler climates. That’s because a heat pump has difficulty when the temperature hits about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. As odd as it seems, during cooler temperatures, a heat pump is intended to pull heat from the outside air and use it to heat the inside air. Just because the air outside feels cold, there is still an adequate amount of heat for the heat pump to operate correctly, but at extremely low temperatures there is not enough heat available outside to increase the inside temperature high enough to stay warm. So while a heat pump may work perfectly during the cooler temperatures for someone in Tampa, someone living in upstate New York with a heat pump would probably 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 work with geothermal systems, and the heating source is better for the environment because it is not burning fossil fuels and, instead, uses the Earth’s actual temperature to heat and cool. This is a great alternative for certain northern areas, but more land must be available in order to install the necessary piping for a geothermal system.
Just what you needed – one more thing to think about when it comes to your home comfort; but, remember, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each heating and cooling system so you don’t end up installing a system that doesn’t work when extreme temperatures hit, or investing in multiple systems when one would suffice.
If you still aren’t convinced which system is best for your home, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule
a complimentary in-home quote. We are available to answer any and all of your questions to ensure you make the right choice for your home.