Although heat is in the name, you can use a heat pump for air conditioning. It works by shifting heat instead of creating it (unlike furnaces) which is why it also is used as a heating and cooling system. It's true that heat pumps can be very efficient, but most air conditioners are similar in terms of SEER rating. Just examine these two top of the line cooling 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 rating for air conditioning systems, and the larger the number, the more efficient it is. The difference between 23.5 and 26 is not astounding 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 equipment is at heating. Notice from these examples when comparing efficiency ratings, air conditioners are about equal, if not a little better depending on the model you choose. The largest difference between the two is that heat pumps can also add warmth to your home while an AC only cools.
Does climate matter for heat pumps?
Heat pumps are more effective in hotter climates with less severe winters, save for some integrated systems that use heat pumps as backups or auxiliary, such as with a geothermal system. We encourage you to consult with a NATE certified HVAC pro 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 very high electric bills. Once the temperature gets too low, it's much harder for the heat pump to draw heat out of the air and it may never reach the temperature set by your thermostat. This means you could unknowingly begin running your heat pump non-stop or switching on emergency heat 24/7 during colder months which drives your energy consumption up.
How does a heat pump stack up against a furnace?
A furnace is a more powerful heating system
and is critical for certain chillier climates. That’s because a heat pump has difficulty when the weather hits about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4.4 degrees Celsius. As strange as it may seem, during cold weather, a heat pump is purposed to extract heat from the air outside and use it to raise the temperature of the inside air. Just because the air outside feels cold, there is still an adequate amount of heat for the heat pump to function well, but at exceptionally low temperatures there is not ample heat available outside to warm the inside air to higher temperatures needed to stay warm. So while a heat pump may be ideal during the winter months for someone in Daytona Beach, 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 certain areas, heat pumps can be used with geothermal systems, and the heating source is better for the environment since it is not burning fossil fuels and, instead, uses the Earth’s actual temperature to heat and cool. This is a wonderful alternative for certain northern regions, but additional land must be available in order to install the required piping for a geothermal system.
When it comes to home comfort, you probably didn’t need anything else to think about; but, remember, it’s important to examine the pros and cons of each heating and cooling system so you don’t end up installing a system that turns off when extreme temperatures hit, or investing in additional systems when one would suffice.
If you still aren’t convinced which system is best for your home, call Roy Inch & Sons Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule
a no-charge in-home quote. We are available to answer any and all of your questions to ensure you make the right choice for your home.