When replacing heating and cooling equipment, it can be difficult to decide whether to install a heat pump or an air conditioner in your home. Both HVAC appliances have their pros and cons, and the best option for each homeowner will depend on specific needs, preferences, and budget. Poston Brothers Heating & Cooling breaks down the basic similarities and differences between heat pump vs air conditioner units so you can make an informed decision about which one you’d like to use.

What Is an Air Conditioner?

Air conditioners are the most common cooling systems in the world. Split system central air conditioners use an outdoor air conditioning unit connected to an indoor furnace or air handler. They work by taking the warm air inside the house and moving that heat outdoors to be released into the atmosphere. This process is facilitated by refrigerant that cycles between the indoor and outdoor coils.

What Is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is a split heating and cooling system that transfers heat from one area to another. An outdoor heat pump unit connects via refrigerant lines to an indoor air handling unit.

The heat pump can cool a space by removing heat from the home just like an air conditioner does. The big differentiator between a heat pump and an air conditioner is that a heat pump can also heat a space, which an air conditioner cannot do. The heat pump isn’t just a cooling system, it can also operate in reverse, moving heat energy from the outdoor air to the indoor air supply, supplying warm air to the home. Heat pumps are known for their convenience as an HVAC system that can both heat and cool a home in one unit. Air conditioners can only produce cold air, so they need to be paired with a furnace to create warm air in the winter. The air conditioner uses the furnace’s blower and the indoor cooling coil is housed in this cabinet, but the two systems operate separately.

Heat Pump vs Air Conditioner – Which Is Right for My Home?

Making the call on a heat pump and an air conditioner can be difficult, as both system types have some major similarities. Often, it comes down to the subtle but real differences found in a heat pump vs an air conditioner and how these elements apply to a homeowner’s situation.

Do You Need Heating and Cooling, or Just Cooling?

When deciding between a heat pump vs air conditioner debate is basically null when it comes to each system’s cooling abilities, as they function the same way. You can check out their SEER rating, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, to see how efficiently specific units perform. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the cooling system. The heat pump efficiency when cooling a home is much better than central air conditioning systems. 

If you need a heating system for your home, a heat pump is your only choice for heat pump vs an air conditioner. The ability to reverse operation is what makes the heat pump so versatile—it can be used to cool or heat any space, whereas most other HVAC systems serve one function only. The heating efficiency of heat pumps is measured by HSPF, or Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. With mild winters in Kentucky, heat pumps typically offer highly efficient heating. However, when outdoor temperatures drop too low some heat pumps can struggle to be energy efficient. Many homeowners use heat pump systems most for cold air and pair their HVAC system with a gas furnace as a heating system. This is a smart solution for heating efficiency in the cold winter months. 

What’s Your Budget?

Overall, heat pumps tend to have higher installation costs. The indoor air handler is typically more affordable than a furnace, but the outdoor heat pump unit can cost more than an air conditioner. One of the major benefits of a heat pump is that it can also act as an air conditioner, so you don’t have to buy two separate units. If you need a solution for heating and cooling, purchasing a heat pump may be the more cost-effective choice. For cooling only, an air conditioner is more affordable.

HVAC Installation in Burlington, KY

If you’ve chosen a side in the heat pump vs air conditioner debate, it’s time for HVAC installation! Call Poston Brothers Heating & Cooling today and request an estimate for heat pump installation or air conditioning installation in your home.