What is the difference between an air conditioner and a heat pump?

heat pump

Some people rely on air conditioners to keep their homes cool. Others use a heat pump. Although these machines sound like they perform totally different functions, they actually work similarly to cool your home effectively. These three questions help you to understand how they compare, and when you might use a heat pump instead of an air conditioner.

What Does A/C and Heat Pumps Have in Common?

If you have an HVAC system with ductwork, you could conceivably use either air conditioning or heat pumps. Both systems use a unit that sits on the exterior of your property, usually located very close to your home. The air conditioner or heat pump uses thermal energy to keep your home appropriately warm or cool. To cool your home, both machines remove heated air from your home and replace it with air that has been cooled by the air conditioner or heat pump. Air conditioners and heat pumps are both useful in hotter climates, where you might need a lot of cooling but not as much heating.

How is A/C Different?

Fundamentally, the air conditioner is different in that it cannot reverse the process. A heat pump has the ability to move the heated air in both directions, out of the home in summer and into the home in winter. For people living in milder winter climates, a heat pump may be all they need to stay comfortable on the coldest days. The U.S. Department of Energy notes that heat pumps may be slightly better at dehumidifying the home, which contributes to greater comfort. However, a heat pump is generally larger than an air conditioner. Heat pumps may also be more expensive, depending on the model you choose and its efficiency. Ask your Sacramento HVAC specialist for the right models of either appliance for your home.

When Would I Choose a Heat Pump?

Heat pumps are ideal for homes in regions with a moderate to warmer climate. That is, a heat pump may not heat very effectively for people who live in areas that regularly drops below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. They need a furnace, boiler or baseboard heating to keep the home a reasonable temperature. With average winter lows in the high 30s, Sacramento has a climate that may be appropriate for a heat pump. If you are looking to replace your air conditioner and you have an older furnace that you do not use very frequently, you may save as much as 50 percent on your winter electricity consumption by switching to a heat pump.
There are several kinds of appliances used to cool homes during the summer, and air conditioners and heat pumps are two of the most popular. Use an air conditioner for simple cooling, or take advantage of a heat pump for efficient heating and cooling all year round. To learn more about your cooling needs or plumbing concerns like water heater repair in Sacramento, ask the experts at Ace Plumbing for detailed guidance.