Although heat is in the name, you can use a heat pump for AC. It works by shifting heat instead of generating it (furnaces burn fuel to generate heat) which is why it also is used as a dual function system. It's true that heat pumps can be very efficient, although most air conditioners are roughly equivalent in terms of their efficiency. Just examine these two high quality cooling 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 larger the number, the cheaper it is to operate. The difference between 23.5 and 26 is not astounding however, and the efficiency varies depending on the model. On the other hand, HSPF is a different standard that stands for "heating seasonal performance factor" and is designed to grade heat pumps. It tells you how efficient the unit is at heating. We can see from these examples when comparing efficiency ratings, air conditioners are mostly equal, if not a little better depending on the system you choose. The largest difference between the two is that heat pumps can also warm up your home while an AC can't.
Does climate matter for heat pumps?
Heat pumps are most effective in warmer climates with mild winters, save for some integrated systems that use heat pumps as an auxiliary, such as with a geothermal system. We recommend a consultation with a NATE certified HVAC tech who has experience in your area before settling on a heat pump. If the equipment just isn't right for your climate, you could have extremely 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 warm your home to the temperature you set. This means you may start running your heat pump non-stop or switching on emergency heat 24/7 during cold snaps which drives your energy consumption up.
How does a heat pump stack up against a furnace?
A furnace is a more robust heating system
and is essential for certain chillier climates. That’s because a heat pump has difficulty when the temperatures hit about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4.4 degrees Celsius. As strange as it may sound, during cooler temperatures, a heat pump is intended to remove heat from the outdoors and use it to warm the inside air. Although it may be too cool outside for comfort, there is still a sufficient amount of heat for the heat pump to work properly, but at exceptionally low temperatures there is not sufficient heat available outside to warm the inside air to higher temperatures needed to stay warm. So while a heat pump may work perfectly during the heating season for someone in Daytona Beach, someone living in upstate New York with a heat pump would likely also need a furnace for the more extreme temperatures. If you’re living in those colder climates without a furnace to kick in during freezing temperatures, a heat pump may run for hours trying to make your home warm enough for comfort.
How to achieve maximum efficiency with your heat pump
In some 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 actual temperature to heat and cool. This is a great alternative for certain northern regions, but additional land must be available in order to install the proper 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 consider the pros and cons of each heating and cooling system so you don’t end up investing in 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 Broad Ripple Service Experts to schedule
a complimentary in-home quote. We are available to answer any and all of your questions to help you choose the right option for your home.