Heat Pump or Air Conditioner: Which One is Right for Cooling Your Home Published on March 28, 2016 There are dozens of decisions to make when it comes to managing your home: carpet or wood, high-efficiency appliances or standard, wood panelling or wall paper. Let’s add one more - air conditioner or heat pump. It’s easy to hear that a heat pump can have lower annual energy costs and think that is the way to go, but how can you be confident a heat pump is actually right for your home’s heating and cooling needs? And how does it differ from an air conditioner anyway? Where cooling is concerned, heat pumps and air conditioners are practically the same. The air conditioner removes heat from inside the home and releases it outside, giving you cooler air in your home. The heat pump functions the same so, during the cooling season, they operate alike and, all things equivalent, cost about the same to keep your home comfortable. But, unlike an air conditioner, a heat pump can be reversed when the cooling season is over. It can take heat from the outside of the home and push it inside, giving you warmer air inside your home. You have one piece of equipment that does double the work, keeping your home comfortable all year, and saving you energy. Whereas a heat pump does the job of a “heater” in the heating season, if you have a standard air conditioner instead of a heat pump, you will have a totally separate system to heat your home – usually a gas or electric furnace. A furnace is a more robust heating system and is critical for certain cooler climates. That’s because a heat pump has trouble when the temperature hits about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius. As peculiar as it seems, during cooler temperatures, a heat pump is designed to pull heat from the outside air and use it to raise the temperature of the inside air. Even when it feels cold outside, there is still an adequate amount of heat for the heat pump to work properly, but at exceptionally low temperatures there is not ample heat available outside to heat the air inside to high enough temperatures needed to keep warm. So while a heat pump may work perfectly during the heating season for someone in Tampa, someone living in upstate New York with a heat pump may also need a furnace for the more extreme temperatures. If you’re living in those colder climates without a furnace to kick in during freezing temperatures, a heat pump may run for hours trying to make your home warm enough for comfort. In many areas, heat pumps can be used as geothermal systems, and the heating source is better for the environment since it is not burning fossil fuels and, instead, uses the Earth’s native temperature to heat and cool. This is a fantastic alternative for specific northern areas, but extra land must be available in order to install the needed piping for a geothermal system. Just what you needed – one more thing to think about when it comes to your 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 turns off when extreme temperatures hit, or investing in additional systems when one would suffice. If you’re not sure which system would work best for you, call Barlow 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 choice for your home.