Although heat is in the name, you can use a heat pump for AC. It works by shifting heat instead of making it (the way a furnace does) which is why it can be used as a two way appliance. It's true that heat pumps can be very efficient, but most air conditioners are roughly equivalent in terms of energy efficiency. Just look at these two luxury level 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 rating for ACs, and the bigger the number, the more efficient it is. The difference between 23.5 and 26 is not great however, and the efficiency changes depending on the model. On the other hand, HSPF is a rating system that stands for "heating seasonal performance factor" and is unique to heat pumps. It tells you how efficient the unit is at heating. You can tell from these examples by looking at the SEER rating, air conditioners are almost equal, if not a little better depending on the system you choose. The biggest difference between the two is that heat pumps can also add warmth to your home while an AC can't.
Does climate matter for heat pumps?
Heat pumps are much more effective in warm climates with mild winters, save for some integrated systems that use heat pumps as a backup, such as with a geothermal system. We recommend a consultation with a NATE certified HVAC pro who has experience in your region before getting your heart set on a heat pump. If the equipment just isn't right for your area, you could have extremely high electric bills. Once the temperature sinks 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 cold snaps which drives your energy consumption way up.
How does a heat pump stack up against a furnace?
A furnace is a more robust heating system
and is essential for certain colder climates. That’s because a heat pump has issues when the weather hits about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. As odd as it may sound, during cooler temperatures, a heat pump is purposed to pull 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 a sufficient amount of heat for the heat pump to function well, but at exceptionally 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’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 be used 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 native temperature to heat and cool. This is a wonderful alternative for particular northern climates, but extra land must be available in order to install the needed 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 investing in a system that shuts down when extreme temperatures hit, or investing in multiple systems when one would suffice.
If you’re not sure which system would work best for you, call Church Services to schedule
a complimentary in-home quote. We are happy to answer any and all of your questions to ensure you make the right decision for your home.