How Do Heat Pumps And Air Conditioners Differ? 

You will need the right HVAC system to either heat or cool your home to navigate different seasons. Heat  pumps and air conditioners can help you cool your house during summer and heat your home during the cold winters.

However, choosing the right HVAC system that will serve your home effectively during different seasons is  not a piece of cake. You can either choose a heat pump or an air conditioner. But to make the right choice, you  must be well informed of both options, and you can only do that by answering an important question: how do  heat pumps and air conditioners differ?

This post will discuss how an air conditioner and heat pump works, their differences, pros, as well as cons, to  help you choose the right HVAC system for your needs.

Let’s jump right in.

Differences between a Heat Pump and Air Conditioner

An air conditioner and a heat pump use different mechanisms to cool your home. To decide which system is right for you, we’ll first find out how each HVAC system works.

How an Air Conditioner works 

The air conditioner system has a furnace that provides heat during cold seasons. When operating in a cooling  mode, the AC releases heat outside just like a heat pump. However, the difference comes in during the heating mode. An air conditioner has an evaporator coil located inside the air handler where the cold air below the  fan comes from.

How a Heat Pump works 

As the name suggests, a heat pump provides heat to your home, unlike the air conditioner, which does not.  Usually, a heat pump has a reversing valve located in the outdoor unit that absorbs heat from the air surrounding it. The absorbed heat is transferred to your home even in freezing temperatures.

The primary difference between a heat pump and air conditioner is in the heating mode of the two systems.  You can use a heat pump to heat or cool your home, but an air conditioner only cools your house. However,  some air conditioners are also paired with a furnace responsible for heating your house during cold months.

Generally, an air source heat pump is more effective as it uses outside air when in heating mode and can also  use a vapor compressor when in cooling mode.

A heat pump can heat your home, but efficient heating is affected by temperatures below the freezing point. Consequently, for the heat pump to maintain the warm temperatures at these conditions, it must be energy  efficient because it will require more energy to run.

Which system is more favorable?

Both the heat pump and the air conditioner can work to provide heat for your home. However, each system  has its pros and cons. You have to consider several factors before making your choice. Let’s discuss the pros  and cons of each system.

Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps and Air Conditioners 

You need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the two HAVC systems before purchasing and  installing one in your home. You may have to consider factors such as purchasing and installation costs, the  effectiveness of the equipment, or its durability.

Purchasing and Installation Costs 

Before deciding which HAVC system to have in your home, you must consider installation and purchasing  costs. Typically, the indoor unit of a heat pump is less costly than the indoor unit of an air conditioner. To  make the right choice, ask an expert about the total costs before making the purchase.

Energy Efficiency 

Heat pumps work efficiently using electricity during cold outdoor seasons. However, as the temperatures  drop to the freezing point, the pump’s effectiveness is tampered with. It, therefore, requires more energy  which means that your electricity bill will be high.

To fix this problem, you may pair the heat pump with a furnace, which will increase your initial installation  cost. You have to remember that the AC comes with a paired furnace, meaning its installation cost will be  constant.


Always consider the life expectancy of an HVAC system before making the purchase. Generally, AC units last  longer than heat pumps.

This is because heat pumps work throughout the year to heat and cool your home. On the other hand, you will only use your ACs during hot seasons.

If you’re stuck between buying an air conditioner or heat pump, you need to understand their differences,  pros, and cons. Once you’ve understood them, your location can be a starting point to making a decision that  will serve your needs.

An expert can help you choose the right HVAC system and help you through the installation process. At  Jamison, we have professionals who understand the ins and outs of HVAC systems who can help you make the  right choice between heat pumps and air conditioning systems. We are also experienced in installing both  heat pumps and air conditioners. Call us today for the best services in town.



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