Although heat is part of the name, you can use a heat pump for AC. It works by transferring heat instead of making it (the way a furnace does) which is why it is used as a two way appliance. It's true that heat pumps can be very efficient, but also know that most air conditioners are roughly equivalent in terms of their efficiency. Just look at these two high quality 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 crazy though, 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 unit is at heating. Notice from these examples when comparing efficiency ratings, air conditioners are about equal, if not superior depending on the model you choose. The greatest difference between the two is that heat pumps can also heat your home while an AC only cools.
Does climate matter for heat pumps?
Heat pumps are most effective in warm 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 recommend a consultation with a NATE certified HVAC technician 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 drops 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 may end up 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 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 trouble when the temperatures hit about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius. As strange as it sounds, during cold weather, a heat pump is designed to extract heat from the outside air and use it to heat the inside air. Just because the air outside feels cold, there is still plenty of available heat for the heat pump to operate correctly, but in exceptionally cold climates there is not enough heat available outside to increase the inside temperature high enough to stay warm. So while a heat pump may work perfectly during the winter months for someone in Daytona Beach, someone living in upstate New York with a heat pump may also need a furnace for the more extreme temperatures. If you don’t have a furnace that kicks in when the freezing temperatures hit, the heat pump can 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 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 natural temperature to heat and cool. This is a fantastic alternative for specific northern regions, 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 purchasing a system that doesn’t work when extreme temperatures hit, or investing in multiple systems when one would suffice.
If you can’t decide which system would best fit your needs, call 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 choose the right option for your home.