Heat Pumps vs. Air Conditioners: Which is Best for You?

You’ve found yourself in need of a new HVAC system for your home, as another Minnesota summer is fast approaching. You’re a discerning person, who does your own due diligence by researching what heating and cooling set up would best suit your needs. Yet, after browsing through several sites, you’ve discovered there’s a huge amount of varying information on whether you should be purchasing a new air conditioner unit or a heat pump. There is no quick and easy answer, but this guide will help you make the best choice for you and your family.

 A Case for Heat Pumps

What is a heat pump? Though heat is in the name, a heat pump can both heat and cool your home by taking heat from one place and moving it to another. During the summer,  a heat pump works to extract heat from inside your home to the outside while doing the exact opposite in winter. This means heat pumps can be energy efficient because of how they transfer heat instead of burning fuel to create or negate it.

There are three main types of heat pumps which are air-to-air, water source, and geothermal. The main difference among these three types of heat pumps is where they collect or remove the heat from; air, water, and ground.

Advantages of Heat Pumps

  • Potential for reduced energy costs
  • Works both for heating and cooling

Disadvantages of Heat Pumps

  • Backup heating needed in colder climates
  • Working year round with heating and cooling reduces its longevity

A Case for Air Conditioners

Air conditioners use refrigeration to chill air. This process is called phase conversion, and it occurs when liquid converts into a gaseous state. The two main types of air conditioner units are central air conditioners and room air conditioners. Central air conditioners encompass a whole house with the cool air being pushed through a series of ducts. Room air conditioners control the coolness only in the room they occupy. As you’re beginning to notice, the biggest difference between these two types of air conditioner units are the amount of space being cooled.

Advantage of Air Conditioners

  • Only used for cooling which increases the longevity of the unit

Disadvantage of Air Conditioners

  • Need a separate source for heating

Consumer Factors to Consider

The biggest difference between a heat pump and an air conditioner is that while a heat pump can both heat and cool your home, an air conditioner will just cool it. This fundamental difference makes it seem like the choice would be easy, but it is worthwhile to keep the following factors in mind when choosing whether to go with a heat pump or air conditioner.

  • Its cost—Depending on your needs, the price of the heat pump may be lower than purchasing an air conditioning unit and the opposite can also be true.
  • Its climate—Heat pumps can lose efficiency when the temperature goes below 25 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a furnace already installed, this may not be an issue and you could end up having your heat pump work with your furnace providing you with more efficient heating in the winter months.
  • Its Use of Energy—Both air conditioning units and heat pumps come with SEER ratings which detail how energy efficient they will be in use when providing cool air. Therefore, a higher SEER rating means you’re saving more energy.
  • Its Lifespan—Since a heat pump works all year round, its life could be shorter than your air conditioning unit that operates only half as much a year.

Residential HVAC Experts on Heat Pump vs. Air Conditioner

The choice between installing a new heat pump or air conditioner unit does not need to be made alone. Due to the many differences that can affect which of the two would be the best choice, it may be time to contact your trusted HVAC expert. At Burnsville Heating & Air Conditioning we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional heating and AC services to Burnsville and its surrounding areas. With our commitment to helping homeowners find quality solutions for their indoor comfort needs, it would be a breeze to assist you with making the best choice for your home.