Although heat is in the name, you can use a heat pump for cooling. It works by transferring heat instead of generating it (the way a furnace does) which is why it can be used as a dual function appliance. It's true that heat pumps can be very efficient, although most air conditioners are roughly equivalent in terms of energy efficiency. Just compare 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 rating for ACs, and the bigger the number, the more efficient it is. The difference between 23.5 and 26 is not crazy however, and the efficiency differs 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 equipment is at heating. Notice from these examples when comparing efficiency ratings, air conditioners are almost equal, if not superior depending on the AC you choose. The biggest 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 most 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 ACE certified
HVAC pro who has experience in your area before getting your heart set on a heat pump. If the equipment just isn't right for your area, you could have unnecessarily 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 reach the temperature set by your thermostat. This means you might end up running your heat pump non-stop or switching on emergency heat 24/7 during winter which drives your energy consumption way 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 temperatures hit about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius. As peculiar as it seems, during heating season, a heat pump is designed to extract heat from the outside air and use it to heat the inside air. Although it may be too cool outside for comfort, there is still plenty of available heat for the heat pump to operate correctly, but at extremely low temperatures there is not sufficient heat available outside to increase the inside temperature high enough to stay warm. So while a heat pump may be great during the heating season 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 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 function 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 native temperature to heat and cool. This is a wonderful alternative for certain northern climates, but extra land must be available in order to install the correct piping for a geothermal system.
We know, we know – you didn’t need another thing to think about when it comes to home comfort; but, remember, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each heating and cooling system so you don’t end up installing a system that doesn’t work when extreme temperatures hit, or investing in two systems when one would suffice.
If you’re not sure which system would work best for you, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule
a free in-home quote. We are available to answer any and all of your questions to ensure you make the right decision for your home.