What is the Difference Between An Air Conditioner and A Heat Pump?

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When you’re ready to start looking for the right home HVAC system, it’s important to spend some time evaluating the various options to make an informed decision. Most people use their air conditioner during the summer months. When the cooler weather of winter rolls around, they switch to their furnace. However, there are alternatives to this common home comfort setup; for example, a single heat pump can help keep your home comfortable throughout the year. In this article, we’ll compare the use of an air conditioner vs. heat pump to discover the similarities, differences, and best scenarios for each option.

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How Are Air Conditioners And Heat Pumps Similar?

There’s a lot of similarity between air conditioners and heat pumps, especially when it comes to cooling a home. They both work using similar parts and essentially function in much the same manner. Also, they both absorb heat by routing indoor air through various cycles, then depositing the heat outdoors. They both use a refrigerant to transfer heat and a compressor to maintain the cycling that is necessary. This process results in being able to cool indoor environments to the desired temperature. Once the set temperature is reached, the system will pause until indoor temperatures start to rise again. Both cooling systems can be very effective and highly efficient.

Primary Differences Between An Air Conditioner And A Heat Pump

heat pump refrigeration cycle

This is where the comparison gets interesting. How do each of these systems differ from each other? One important point: a heat pump has a valve that allows it to change the direction of the refrigerant. With a simple flip of a switch, the heat pump will gather heat from the air outside the house and distribute it indoors for heating the home. In this case, the refrigerant flow is reversed, but it still uses the same cycling. In colder months, this can help heat a home. The dual feature of a heat pump means there’s no additional heating system installation that’s required.

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Which HVAC System Fits Your Needs?

1. Purchase And Installation Costs of A Heat Pump & Air Conditioner

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Many people choose a window air conditioner when they want a cooling system that is low-cost. However, this type of cooling system might be less expensive in the beginning, but it tends to have very high operating costs. These window units are noisy, inefficient, and create an environment that’s ideal for the growth of mold and bacteria. On the other hand, a heat pump, like an air conditioner, requires both an indoor unit as well as a separate unit outdoors. It comes with higher initial purchase and installation costs. However, a heat pump means you get a heating and cooling unit in one package, so the higher initial expense might be offset by this feature. Of course, your actual costs will depend on the specific heating and cooling needs of your home.

2. Cost Of Operation And Energy Efficiency

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When it comes to energy efficiency, heat pumps stand up well against traditional air conditioners. Both cooling systems are capable of attaining high SEER ratings. SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is the measure of cooling output in relation to electrical input. The higher the SEER rating, the better because it means the system is able to cool an area while utilizing less energy. This means operating costs will be lower throughout the life of the equipment.

When you need to change from cooling your home to heating, it can get a little more complicated. A heat pump will work well in areas where outdoor temperatures don’t drop below freezing. In this type of situation, the heat pump can keep a home warm throughout the winter while still operating efficiently. However, in areas where temperatures get extremely cold, a heat pump might not be a great option. In this case, an additional furnace will be necessary in order to meet the heating needs which means this hybrid system could actually cost more than simply having an air conditioner and a separate furnace.

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3. Longevity

Any type of HVAC equipment will require an investment, so it’s important to consider the length of time this equipment will be able to meet your needs. An air conditioner will generally last longer than a heat pump because of how it is used. The air conditioner is only used during the warm months, but a heat pump will be used all year long. The heat pump will almost certainly face issues with wear and tear in a shorter period of time. Longevity can definitely be increased by making sure a professional HVAC technician performs regular tune-ups.

 

An HVAC Professional Can Help You Choose the Best System to Meet Your Needs

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The installation and replacement of an HVAC system can significantly impact the comfort of a family, but it is also a very expensive project. It’s important to ensure that you have the information you need regarding the options that are available. An HVAC professional will answer your questions. This can help you make an informed decision. No need for regrets when you do your research.

Experienced HVAC contractors have undergone rigorous training in their field and have the expertise to give you quality results. They have the skills and knowledge necessary to ensure your specific needs are met. Additionally, they can help you choose the right heating and cooling solutions to meet your budget as well as ensure you get energy-efficient equipment. This can provide your family with year-round comfort and exceptional indoor air quality.

Schedule your free estimate with an HVAC company you trust in order to get more information regarding your options for heating and cooling solutions. Every situation is unique, so it’s important to consult a trusted professional to discuss your unique needs.

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Conclusion

Many people are confused about air conditioners and heat pumps. We learned in this article that they use similar methods for cooling and have similar performance and efficiencies. Heat pumps offer more versatility since they can change direction and serve as a source for heating. In moderate climates, a heat pump can be an excellent heating system. However, to maximize the life expectancy of a heat pump, make sure it is tuned up annually. A local HVAC company can help you understand your options so you can purchase the right system for your needs.

 

Give Wilcox Energy A Call For All Of Your Air Conditioning Needs

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Wilcox Energy provides exceptional HVAC services throughout the southern Connecticut shoreline. We hire only the very best technicians who are NATE certified and capable of providing you with exceptional HVAC replacements, installations, repairs, and tune-ups. All of our technicians have the expertise and knowledge to provide quality HVAC service for your system.

Wilcox Energy guarantees you’ll get HVAC service costs that are the most competitive in the area. Additionally, with maintenance service, you can increase comfort and energy efficiency while lowering energy costs. If you need replacement or repair of an HVAC system, we can provide a recommendation regarding the best one for your home needs as well as your budget. For your satisfaction, we offer a guarantee for all of our work. Give Wilcox Energy a call to schedule an appointment for service today. We provide free, in-home estimates.
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For more information about our HVAC services, be sure to contact Wilcox Energy. You can click here to contact us, or you can call us at (860) 399-6218 to find out more. We offer a full line of heating and cooling repairs, maintenance services, and installations.