If you need to replace your air conditioner or you want to install a new central air system in your home, two options you can choose between are a standard central AC unit or a heat pump. Choosing between the two can depend on what your budget is and what type of HVAC system you currently have. Today we’re going to discuss the differences between ACs and heat pumps and the important factors you should consider that can help you make a more informed choice on which unit is better for your home.
How Heat Pumps and ACs Differ
Heat pumps and standard central AC units are both excellent options for keeping your home cool. In fact, there are no differences between the two units at least in terms of cooling. The only difference between the two is that heat pumps have a special component known as a reversing valve that enables them to provide heating in addition to air conditioning.
When you switch your thermostat to heating mode during the winter, the heat pump’s reversing valve activates so that the refrigerant moves through the system in the opposite direction. Instead of using cold refrigerant to remove heat from the home and transport it outside, the cold refrigerant captures heat energy from the air outside and transports it inside to raise the indoor air temperature.
For the process to work effectively, the refrigerant first moves through an expansion valve before it is pumped inside. This causes the refrigerant pressure to instantly decrease, which “superheats” the refrigerant so that it is much hotter than the air temperature inside. As cool air is forced over the indoor coil filled with hot refrigerant, most of the heat is released so that the air blowing out of the system is much warmer than the air coming in through the return air vents.
Energy Efficiency and Effectiveness
Since heat pumps and central ACs function the same way when cooling, there is also no difference between the two in terms of energy efficiency or effectiveness. If you’re comparing two units of the same size and with the same SEER rating, they will always cool at the same rate and use the same amount of electricity. For this reason, it’s better to instead consider how a heat pump compares to other heating options such as a gas or electric furnace.
Heat pumps are the most energy-efficient option you have for heating your home. This is especially true in California since heat pumps work best and use the least amount of energy when the outdoor temperature is in the 40s or higher. When the temperature is above freezing, heat pumps are around three times more energy efficient than gas furnaces or any other type of heating. This means that a heat pump can easily save you hundreds of dollars each year in heating costs.
One other thing to think about is that heat pumps are much more environmentally friendly than other heating options, which means they can help reduce your carbon footprint. This is partly because they use less energy than other types of electric heating, such as baseboard heaters. The main reason heat pumps are so efficient is that they don’t produce any carbon emissions, unlike gas furnaces.
A heat pump will always have a higher up-front cost than a standard central air conditioner. In most cases, you’ll pay at least $500 to $1,000 more to purchase and install a heat pump than you would for the same size central AC unit. However, a heat pump will definitely save you money compared to if you were to install an AC and a furnace.
When considering a heat pump installation, it’s also important to think about the long-term costs. A heat pump will typically lower your yearly heating costs by around 50%, which means that you could easily end up saving thousands of dollars over the life of the unit.
Life expectancy is one area where AC units almost always come out on top. When properly maintained, a central air conditioner will usually last for 15 to 20 years. Heat pumps, on the other hand, will usually only last for 10 to 15 years. This is simply because heat pumps get far more use during the year instead of only running during the warmer months like an AC.
Spot On Heating Air & Plumbing is the top choice for cooling and heating installation in Whittier, and we can help if you’re looking for a new AC unit or a heat pump. We also install ductless air conditioning and can take care of your HVAC repair and maintenance needs as well. For more information on your options for a new heat pump or AC, contact Spot On Heating Air & Plumbing today.