Deciding Between An AC Unit And A Heat Pump

When you are looking at heating and cooling a home, the equipment you choose to do the heating and cooling in your home can make a big difference. Most homes use a combination of an AC unit and a furnace to provide heat and cooling for a home. If you live in a moderate climate, you may be able to get away with using just one piece of equipment—a heat pump. 

How an AC Unit Works

An AC unit cools a home by allowing a refrigerant to vaporize in its evaporator coil. As the refrigerant vaporizes, it absorbs heat from its surroundings. The pump that circulates the refrigerant through the system only works in one direction, so your AC unit can only be used to cool a home. 

How a Heat Pump Works

Just like an AC unit, a heat pump uses a refrigerant to absorb heat from its surroundings. The difference is that whereas a heat pump can only absorb heat from inside your home and then expel that heat into the outside world through a set of condenser coils, a heat pump can reverse the function of its coils, so the coils on the outside of your house can absorb heat from the outside air and then pump that heat into your home to heat it up. Using a heat pump will save you money on installation costs, so you might be wondering why some people use a furnace at all.

When a Heat Pump Is a Good Choice

Heat pumps can absorb heat form the outside air even when temperatures are so cold that you need a jacket to go outside, but the closer that temperatures get to freezing, the harder your heat pump has to work to heat your home. In fact, if temperatures drop below freezing, your heat pump may not be able to heat your home at all. Thus, if you live in the North, or you live in a mountainous area, freezing temperatures may make using a heat pump a bad idea. 

Saving money on installation costs is a worthy goal, but if saving money on installation costs means that you will be paying more to heat your home for as long as your heat pump lasts, you may end up paying more money in the long run. Thus, if you live in a temperate zone, a heat pump is a good idea; otherwise, you need to stick with the regular furnace-AC combo. 

For an AC contractor, contact a company such as Allzone Air Conditioning & Heating Corp.