Although heat is included in the name, you can use a heat pump for air conditioning. It works by moving heat instead of generating it (unlike furnaces) which is why it can be used as a two way system. It's true that heat pumps can be very efficient, but most air conditioners are similar in terms of their efficiency. Just examine these two luxury level 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 conditioners, and the higher the number, the cheaper it is to operate. The difference between 23.5 and 26 is not great 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 about equal, if not even better depending on the system you choose. The largest 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 most effective in hotter climates with mild winters, save for some integrated systems that use heat pumps as backups or auxiliary, such as with a geothermal system. We recommend a consultation with a NATE certified HVAC technician who has experience in your city before getting your heart set on a heat pump. If the equipment just isn't right for your area, you could have unnecessarily high electric bills. Once the temperature sinks too low, it's difficult 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 start running your heat pump non-stop or switching on emergency heat 24/7 during winter which drives your energy consumption up.
How does a heat pump compare with a furnace?
A furnace is a more powerful heating system
and is necessary for certain cooler climates. That’s because a heat pump has difficulty when the weather hits about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius. As strange as it may seem, during cooler temperatures, a heat pump is intended to pull heat from the air outside and use it to warm the inside air. Even when it feels cold outside, there is still a sufficient amount of heat for the heat pump to function well, but at extremely low temperatures there is not ample heat available outside to heat the air inside to high enough temperatures needed to keep warm. So while a heat pump may be ideal during the cooler temperatures for someone in Tampa, someone living in upstate New York with a heat pump would likely 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 many areas, heat pumps can work with geothermal systems, and the heating source is better for the environment as it is not burning fossil fuels and, instead, uses the Earth’s native temperature to heat and cool. This is a great alternative for particular northern climates, but more land must be available in order to install the essential 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 review 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’re not sure which system would work best for you, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule
a free in-home quote. We are here to answer any and all of your questions to help you make the right decision for your home.