Although heat is included in the name, you can use a heat pump for AC. It works by shifting heat instead of making it (unlike furnaces) which is why it also is used as a heating and cooling appliance. It's true that heat pumps can be very efficient, but also know that most air conditioners are about equal in terms of SEER rating. Just examine these two top of the line 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 guideline for air conditioning systems, and the larger the number, the more efficient it is. The difference between 23.5 and 26 is not great however, and the efficiency varies depending on the model. On the other hand, HSPF is another scale that stands for "heating seasonal performance factor" and is unique to heat pumps. It tells you how efficient the equipment is at heating. Notice from these examples that as far as energy effiency goes, air conditioners are about equal, if not a little better depending on the AC you choose. The largest difference between them is that heat pumps can also add warmth to your home while an AC cannot.
Does climate matter for heat pumps?
Heat pumps are much more effective in warmer climates with milder winters, save for some integrated systems that use heat pumps as backups or auxiliary, such as with a geothermal system. You should speak with a ACE certified
HVAC technician who has experience in your region 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 drops too low, it's near impossible 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 might unknowingly begin running your heat pump non-stop or switching on emergency heat 24/7 during winter which drives your energy consumption through the roof.
How does a heat pump compare to a furnace?
A furnace is a more robust heating system
and is essential for certain colder climates. That’s because a heat pump has trouble when the weather hits about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4.4 degrees Celsius. As strange as it sounds, during heating season, a heat pump is purposed to extract 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 an adequate amount of heat for the heat pump to work properly, but in exceptionally cold climates there is not ample heat available outside to warm the inside air to higher temperatures needed to stay warm. So while a heat pump may be great during the cooler temperatures for someone in Orlando, 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 many areas, heat pumps can work with geothermal systems, and the heating source is better for the environment since it is not burning fossil fuels and, instead, uses the Earth’s actual temperature to heat and cool. This is a fantastic alternative for particular northern climates, but extra land must be available in order to install the correct 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 examine the pros and cons of each heating and cooling system so you don’t end up buying a system that doesn’t work 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 Stallion Heating Plumbing Air Conditioning to schedule
a no-charge in-home quote. We are available to answer any and all of your questions to help you choose the right option for your home.