Although heat is part of the name, you can use a heat pump for cooling. It works by transferring heat instead of creating it (the way a furnace does) which is why it is used as a dual function system. It's true that heat pumps can be very efficient, but also know that most air conditioners are about equal in terms of energy efficiency. Just examine these two high quality 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 ACs, and the bigger the number, the better it is. The difference between 23.5 and 26 is not great however, and the efficiency differs depending on the model. On the other hand, HSPF is a different standard that stands for "heating seasonal performance factor" and is unique to heat pumps. It tells you how efficient the system is at heating. We can see from these examples when comparing efficiency ratings, air conditioners are almost equal, if not even better depending on the system you choose. The greatest difference between them is that heat pumps can also warm up your home while an AC can't.
Does climate matter for heat pumps?
Heat pumps are much more effective in hotter climates with less severe winters, save for some integrated systems that use heat pumps as a backup, such as with a geothermal system. You should speak with a ACE certified
HVAC technician who has experience in your area 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 sinks too low, it's near impossible for the heat pump to draw heat out of the air and it may never hit the temperature setting on your thermostat. This means you could start 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 more powerful 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 (4.4 degrees Celsius. As weird as it seems, during cooler temperatures, a heat pump is designed to extract heat from the outdoors and use it to heat the inside air. Just because the air outside feels cold, there is still a sufficient amount of heat for the heat pump to function well, but in exceptionally cold climates there is not enough heat available outside to heat the air inside to high enough temperatures needed to keep warm. So while a heat pump may be great during the heating season for someone in Tampa, someone living in upstate New York with a heat pump may 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 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 actual temperature to heat and cool. This is a great alternative for particular 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 consider the pros and cons of each heating and cooling system so you don’t end up buying a system that shuts down when extreme temperatures hit, or investing in multiple systems when one would suffice.
If you can’t decide which system would best fit your needs, 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 make the right decision for your home.