Although heat is part of the name, you can use a heat pump for air conditioning. It works by shifting heat instead of making it (the way a furnace does) which is why it can be used as a dual function unit. It's true that heat pumps can be very efficient, but also know that most air conditioners are roughly equivalent in terms of energy efficiency. Just compare these two top of the line units 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 air conditioning systems, and the bigger the number, the cheaper it is to operate. The difference between 23.5 and 26 is not astounding however, and the efficiency changes depending on the model. On the other hand, HSPF is another scale that stands for "heating seasonal performance factor" and is specially for heat pumps. It tells you how efficient the system is at heating. We can see from these examples by looking at the SEER rating, air conditioners are almost equal, if not superior depending on the AC you choose. The biggest difference between heat pumps and ACs is that heat pumps can also add warmth to your home while an AC cannot.
Does climate matter for heat pumps?
Heat pumps are more effective in warmer climates with less severe winters, save for some integrated systems that use heat pumps as backups or auxiliary, such as with a geothermal system. You should speak with a ACE certified
HVAC tech who has experience in your region before deciding on a heat pump. If the equipment just isn't right for your home, you could have extremely high electric bills. Once the temperature gets too low, it's difficult 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 might unknowingly begin running your heat pump non-stop or switching on emergency heat 24/7 during colder months which drives your energy consumption way up.
How does a heat pump compare to a furnace?
A furnace is a more powerful heating system
and is necessary for certain chillier climates. That’s because a heat pump has issues when the temperatures hit about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4.4 degrees Celsius. As odd as it seems, during heating season, a heat pump is designed to remove heat from the outside air and use it to warm the inside air. Although it may be too cool outside for comfort, there is still an adequate amount of heat for the heat pump to operate correctly, but in exceptionally cold climates there is not sufficient heat available outside to heat the air inside to high enough temperatures needed to keep warm. So while a heat pump may work perfectly during the winter months 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 freezing temperatures hit and you don’t have a furnace to take over, a heat pump could run for hours trying to keep your home warm enough.
How to achieve maximum efficiency with your heat pump
In certain areas, heat pumps can function 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 fantastic alternative for specific northern areas, but extra land must be available in order to install the needed 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 review the pros and cons of each heating and cooling system so you don’t end up buying a system that shuts down when extreme temperatures hit, or investing in two systems when one would suffice.
If you can’t decide which system would best fit your needs, call Climate Control Service Experts to schedule
a complimentary in-home quote. We are available to answer any and all of your questions to help you choose the right option for your home.