What is the Difference Between An Air Conditioner and A Heat Pump?

image of an air conditioner and a heat pump

Studying the different options before deciding which HVAC system you should install in your home is best. The traditional method is to use a furnace in the winter and an AC unit in the summer. However, depending on the climate, homeowners can also use alternatives such as a heat pump. This article includes a comparison of an air conditioner vs. heat pump, including their differences, similarities, and ideal usage situations. 

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Similarities Between Heat Pumps and Air Conditioners

Heat pumps and air conditioning systems have significant similarities when cooling a home down. Both systems absorb the heat inside the house and release it outside through multiple cycles. They rely on a refrigerant to transfer the heat and a compressor to ensure the cycles continue repeatedly. This results in a gradual cooling of your home until the thermostat temperature is reached. The system will pause until the temperature increases again, and the cycle will restart. Heat pumps and air conditioners are highly effective and efficient.  

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How Does An Air Conditioner And A Heat Pump Differ?

heat pump operation

Here is the interesting part. What is the difference between an air conditioner and a heat pump? One significant difference is that heat pumps have a valve that allows them to change directions. With only a flip of a switch, a heat pump will begin gathering heat from outdoors and release it inside the house. The refrigerant travels in reverse, but it still undergoes the same cycle. This is a useful feature when you require home heating during the cold season. An air conditioner is unable to do this.

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Which HVAC System Is Right for You?

Here are three features to consider to determine which system is right for your home:

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Cost to Purchase and Install

image of energy and calculator depicting ac unit and heat pump energy costs

People looking for a low-cost system tend to choose a window air conditioner. Unfortunately, window AC units may be a lower initial investment, but they do have high operating costs. They are very inefficient and noisy and make the ideal place for bacteria and mold to grow. A heat pump has indoor and outdoor units, which may be quite expensive to buy and install. However, consider the fact that you get a heating and cooling system in one unit, so it is a worthy investment if you need this feature. The actual amount you will have to pay at the onset will primarily depend on your home’s heating and cooling needs.

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Energy Efficiency and Cost to Operate

Heat pumps compare more favorably than air conditioners when it comes to energy efficiency. Both cooling systems can have high Seasonal Energy Efficiency (SEER) ratings. This measures the cooling output per electrical input. It is always better to have a higher rating as it translates to a unit that can cool a space while consuming a small amount of energy. Therefore, you will have lower operating costs throughout its lifespan.

When you need to switch from cooling to heating, it can be a bit more complex. Heat pumps operate well in regions where the temperature doesn’t drop below freezing. They can heat your home efficiently using electricity through the winter season. However, they may not be enough in areas that routinely experience below-freezing temperatures. Adding a furnace can solve this issue, but this hybrid system may be costlier than an air conditioner-furnace pair.

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HVAC systems cost a considerable amount, so you should consider how long each piece of equipment can serve you. Air conditioners usually last longer than heat pumps because of their length of use. Air conditioners are only needed during the hotter months, while heat pumps are used all year round. As a result, heat pumps wear out faster. You can increase their longevity by having professional HVAC technicians conduct regular maintenance on the system. 

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Ask An HVAC Expert To Find The Best System For Your Home

image of an hvac contractor repairing an old air conditioner

Initial HVAC system installations and replacements are costly projects that significantly impact the family’s comfort. Ensure that you are properly informed about all options available. Consult an HVAC technician so you can ask all questions in your mind and get satisfactory answers. This is the best method to make an informed decision so you won’t have regrets. Professional HVAC contractors undergo rigorous training, have years of experience, and have the skills and knowledge to meet your home needs. They will help you choose a heating and cooling system that is affordable and energy efficient. This way, your family can enjoy year-round comfort and high indoor air quality. 

Book an estimate with a reliable HVAC company if you want more information on selecting a system today. Each home is unique, so talk to a trusted and competent HVAC professional about your particular situation. 

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Heat pumps and air conditioners can cause a lot of confusion to homeowners. This article discusses how they have similar performance, cooling methods, and efficiencies. Heat pumps offer more versatility as they can also act as a heat source. This means heat pumps are excellent heating systems in moderate climates. You only need to ensure they are maintained once a year to prolong their service life. Consult a local HVAC company to assess your options so you can get the best system for your home with confidence.

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Call R.F. Ohl For Your Air Conditioning Requirements

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R.F. Ohl offers top-notch heating and cooling services throughout the Lehigh Valley and the Poconos, Pennsylvania. Our expert team of professionally certified technicians provides excellent HVAC services, like furnace replacements, heat pump tune-ups, air conditioner repairs, and more. Our techs will utilize their extensive knowledge, skills, and experience to ensure all HVAC services are done correctly.

We offer the area’s most cost-effective HVAC service costs. Our maintenance services aim to improve energy efficiency, air quality, and the comfort of your home. We assess each case carefully so we can offer the best solution, while working within your budget. Schedule an appointment today by calling R.F. Ohl. Your satisfaction is important to us, so all our work is guaranteed. Contact R.F. Ohl today for a free, in-home estimate.

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