Although heat is part of the name, you can use a heat pump for AC. It works by transferring heat instead of creating it (unlike furnaces) which is why it is used as a two way system. It's true that heat pumps can be very efficient, although most air conditioners are about equal in terms of SEER rating. Just examine these two high quality units 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 scale for air conditioners, and the higher the number, the better it is. The difference between 23.5 and 26 is not great though, and the efficiency changes depending on the model. On the other hand, HSPF is another scale 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 by looking at the SEER rating, air conditioners are about equal, if not even better depending on the system you choose. The largest difference between heat pumps and ACs is that heat pumps can also add warmth to your home while an AC only cools.
Does climate matter for heat pumps?
Heat pumps are more effective in hotter climates with mild winters, save for some integrated systems that use heat pumps as backups or auxiliary, such as with a geothermal system. We encourage you to consult with a ACE certified
HVAC tech who has experience in your region before deciding on a heat pump. If the equipment just isn't right for your home, you could have unnecessarily 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 reach the temperature set by your thermostat. This means you might start running your heat pump non-stop or switching on emergency heat 24/7 during cold snaps which drives your energy consumption way up.
How does a heat pump compare to a furnace?
A furnace is a stronger heating system
and is essential for certain cooler climates. That’s because a heat pump has issues when the weather hits about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4.4 degrees Celsius. As odd as it may seem, during cooler temperatures, a heat pump is purposed to remove heat from the outside air and use it to raise the temperature of the inside air. Even when it feels cold outside, there is still plenty of available heat for the heat pump to function well, but at extremely low temperatures there is not ample heat available outside to increase the inside temperature high enough to stay warm. So while a heat pump may be great during the winter months for someone in Orlando, someone living in upstate New York with a heat pump would probably 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 certain areas, heat pumps can function with geothermal systems, and the heating source is better for the environment because it is not burning fossil fuels and, instead, uses the Earth’s native temperature to heat and cool. This is a wonderful alternative for certain northern climates, but extra land must be available in order to install the correct 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 understand the pros and cons of each heating and cooling system so you don’t end up purchasing a system that shuts down when extreme temperatures hit, or investing in two systems when one would suffice.
If you can’t decide which system would best fit your needs, call Robinson Service Experts to schedule
a complimentary in-home quote. We are here to answer any and all of your questions to help you make the right decision for your home.