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Air Conditioner Vs Heat Pump

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Heat pump, air conditioner, they’re all the same thing aren’t they? I mean they both sit outside and look the same right?

Well, kind of, but they are also both quite different in how they operate and their overall energy costs.

Depending on where you live, one may be more economical than the other.

Let’s take a look at both units and see which one might be better for you in the long run.

Heat Pump:

A heat pump system can both cool and heat your home.

Heat pumps work by having the ability to literally reverse it’s operation through the use of a reversing valve.

During the hot summer months, the heat from the indoor air is collected at the evaporator coil inside and then transferred to the outside condenser through the use of refrigerant.

If you feel the copper refrigerant lines going into your indoor coil, you can feel the heat being removed from your home.

Once at the outside unit, the heat is dispersed into the air.

This process happens in the opposite order during the colder months in heating mode.

Heat from the air is collected at the outdoor unit and then transferred inside to warm your home. The only downside to this is that sometimes it is too cold outside for your heat pump to adequately heat your home.

Normally, once temperatures drop below 32 degrees you will need to use your auxiliary heating source, such as an gas furnace, to heat your home.

Heat pumps generally having a much higher energy efficiency than a standard air conditioner.

It’s worth noting however that unless you live in an area that has a mild winter, you may not see the maximum energy savings of having a heat pump since it won’t run efficiently below 32 degrees.

States such as Florida, Georgia and the Carolina’s are all prime heat pump locations.

Here is a quick break down of what a heat pump can do for you:

  • Both heats and cools the home
  • Heating capabilities decline when the outside temperature is less than 32 degrees.
  • Operates all year round
  • Last 15-20 years assuming annual maintenance is completed on unit.
  • More expensive than air conditioners and generally cost between $6,500-$15,000.
  • More energy efficient than a standard air conditioner

Air Conditioners:

Air conditioners are the standard cooling equipment in most homes in the northern part of America today.

They work in similar fashion to a heat pump but in only one direction (transfer of heat from indoors to outdoors).

An air conditioner operates by absorbing warm indoor air at the evaporator coil that sits on top of your furnace.

This heat energy is then transferred to the outdoor condenser through the refrigerant lines and then dispersed into the outdoor air.

You can feel the heat being removed from your home if you hold your hand over the fan blowing at the outside unit.

Here is a quick break down of what an air conditioner can do for you:

  • Cools home only
  • Only runs seasonally.
  • Last 15-20 years assuming annual maintenance is completed on unit.
  • Generally cost between $3,500-$8,000.

If you are looking to get the best deal, the best time to buy an air conditioner or heat pump is during the off season months of February and March.

Heat Pump
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