Although heat is part of the name, you can use a heat pump for AC. It works by transferring heat instead of making it (unlike furnaces) which is why it is used as a heating and cooling system. 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 compare 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 conditioners, and the bigger the number, the more efficient it is. The difference between 23.5 and 26 is not crazy though, 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 specially for heat pumps. It tells you how efficient the system is at heating. We can see from these examples that as far as energy effiency goes, air conditioners are almost equal, if not a little better depending on the model you choose. The greatest 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 more effective in warm climates with less severe winters, save for some integrated systems that use heat pumps as a backup, such as with a geothermal system. We encourage you to consult with a NATE certified HVAC technician 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 very high electric bills. Once the temperature gets too low, it's near impossible 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 may unknowingly begin running your heat pump non-stop or switching on emergency heat 24/7 during colder months which drives your energy consumption up.
How does a heat pump compare with a furnace?
A furnace is a stronger heating system
and is critical for certain chillier climates. That’s because a heat pump has issues when the temperature hits about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4.4 degrees Celsius. As strange as it seems, during cooler temperatures, a heat pump is designed to remove heat from the air outside and use it to heat the inside air. Even when it feels cold outside, there is still an adequate amount of heat for the heat pump to function well, but at exceptionally low temperatures 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 work perfectly during the heating season for someone in Tampa, someone living in upstate New York with a heat pump would likely also need a furnace for the more extreme temperatures. If freezing temperatures hit and you don’t have a furnace to take over, a heat pump could 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 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 fantastic alternative for specific northern climates, but extra land must be available in order to install the needed 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 review 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 two systems when one would suffice.
If you still aren’t convinced which system is best for your home, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule
a complimentary in-home quote. We are happy to answer any and all of your questions to help you choose the right option for your home.