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Triple-O Heating, Cooling, Electrical & Plumbing Blog

Heat Pumps vs. Air Conditioners

Heat pumps are becoming more popular in residential homes today. They’ve even received coverage from major media outlets because of the benefits they can offer not only to homes but the whole country thanks to their lower energy use and reduced emissions. 

We offer heat pump service in Rochester, NY and we think they’re great HVAC systems. We want more people to know what they’re about, so below we’ve done a breakdown of the differences between an air conditioner and a heat pump.

What Makes an AC and a Heat Pump Different?

The simple answer is that an air conditioner is able to cool a space, while a heat pump can both cool and heat a space. They are similar in most ways: both are refrigerant-based systems that use a compressor and two sets of coils to remove heat from the air in one location and then release it in another. In fact, you’d have a hard time telling a heat pump from an AC when looking at them from outside the house. 

The essential difference in how they work is that an air conditioner can only circulate refrigerant in one direction: the refrigerant absorbs heat from indoors and then releases the heat outdoors. But a heat pump can change the direction refrigerant circulates so that in cooling mode, it absorbs heat from indoors and releases it outdoors, and in heating mode, it absorbs heat from outdoors and releases it indoors. 

Where Does a Heat Pump Get Heat in Winter?

This is the most common question people have about heat pumps. If a heat pump is drawing the heat it requires from the air outside, where does that heat come from during the winter cold?

The answer is that there’s always some heat energy in the air, no matter how cold it is. Heat pumps are designed to work efficiently at low temperatures. Older heat pumps often struggled in freezing temperatures, but new ones have an easier time. 

Is an AC or a Heat Pump a Better Choice for My Home?

This depends on several factors. If you currently use a gas furnace to heat your house, it’s probably better to keep the furnace and air conditioner combination for your year-round comfort. 

However, if you live in an all-electric home, a heat pump is a good alternative to consider. Heat pumps use much less electricity than an electric furnace when in heating mode. You can end up saving hundreds of dollars off your winter heating costs by making the switch to a heat pump. 

Heat pumps do cost more than air conditioners. However, if you replace both your AC and heater at the same time with a heat pump, you’ll end up saving money, since a heat pump still costs less than replacing both an air conditioner and a heater.

If you still aren’t certain if a heat pump is a good installation for your home’s future, feel free to call us. We can help you make the best decision for your home and family.

Triple-O Heating, Cooling, Electrical & Plumbing Is Your One-stop Shop for HVAC, Plumbing and Electrical.

We are an official New York State Clean Heat Contractor and you can be eligible for up to $4,900 in rebates from NY state!

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