The quality and dependability of your HVAC system can significantly impact the comfort of your house. The temperatures rise in California during the summer. Therefore, it is important to have a reliable air conditioner system to keep your house cool. You have two main options for HVAC systems for cooling homes: a heat pump or an air conditioner.  

To many homeowners, heat pumps and air conditioners are the same. But the truth is, they are different in a few technical aspects. So let us explore the key differences between these two types of systems. We will also talk about the other considerations that will help you choose the right one.

Heat pump and air conditioner—are they the same?

Heat pumps and air conditioners are practically the same when running in cooling mode, with no substantial differences in operation, efficiency, or energy costs. They both use a refrigerant to transfer heat. The air conditioner coils absorb heat from the air inside your home and release it outside.  

The heat pump coils do the same, except they do the opposite when in heating mode (they take heat from the outside air and bring it into your home). Even the outdoor units of these systems are too similar. It would be impossible for non-experts to tell them apart. 

Differences between a heat pump and and air conditioner

A heat pump can be used for both heating and cooling, whereas an air conditioner can only be used for cooling. Heat pumps come with a reversing valve in the outdoor unit, which allows the refrigerant to be transferred from the outdoor unit to the indoor unit. Even in freezing temperatures, a heat pump can still absorb heat energy from the outside and transfer the heat inside the home in the form of heated air.  

As mentioned above, the sole purpose of an air conditioner is to cool. Another heating system, such as a furnace, is required to keep the house warm in the winter. A comprehensive heating and cooling system combines an air conditioner and a furnace.

Factors to consider when choosing between a heat pump and air conditioner

Product and installation cost

The initial cost of the outdoor unit is higher for a heat pump system. However, its operating costs are lower, saving you money on lower electric bills in the long run. Unfortunately, the efficiency of heat pumps decreases as temperatures approach the freezing point. That means they would require more energy to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. 

The solution is to pair them with a furnace. But remember that the initial cost for the heat pump unit is already expensive. Therefore, pairing it with a furnace will set you back a bit more than a paired system of an air conditioner and furnace. Installing and maintaining a heat pump might be more expensive than installing and maintaining an air conditioner, too.

Energy efficiency

Heat pumps and air conditioners have high SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings in cooling mode. The SEER rating indicates how efficient the unit is. It also provides a standardized measurement of efficiency that may be used to compare different models of HVAC systems. For example, most modern air conditioners have a SEER that ranges from 13 to 21. Heat pumps with a SEER rating of 18 or higher are considered highly efficient. However, some of the most efficient models have a SEER rating of up to 20.5.

Heating and air conditioning service near me

Finding a suitable air-conditioning system for your home can be a difficult task. Looking for a reliable company to help with your HVAC installation? Turn to Pioneers Heating and Air. We are a trusted name in South Pasadena and the entire San Gabriel Valley. Our team is dedicated to providing top-quality HVAC services to residences and small businesses. Our services include ductless heating and air unit installation to air conditioner repair. Let our experts guide you in selecting the most energy-efficient HVAC system for your home. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation on our services.

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