Heat Pump or Air Conditioner: Which One is Right for Cooling Your Home Published on March 28, 2016 The amount of decisions you have to make to manage your home seems to be endless: carpet or tile, high-efficiency appliances or standard, textured finish 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 certain a heat pump is actually right for your home’s heating and cooling needs? And what makes it different from an air conditioner anyway? As far as cooling your home, heat pumps and air conditioners are mostly the same. The air conditioner removes heat from inside the home and delivers it outside, cooling the air in your home. The heat pump functions the same so, during the cooling season, they operate identical and, all things even, cost about the same to keep your home cool. Yet, unlike an air conditioner, a heat pump can be reversed when the colder weather sets in. It can pull heat from the outside of the home and move 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 reducing your energy. Whereas a heat pump does the job of a “heater” in cooler temperatures, 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 stronger heating system and is critical for certain chillier climates. That’s because a heat pump has issues when the temperatures hit about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius. As odd as it sounds, during cooler temperatures, a heat pump is designed to remove heat from the outdoors and use it to heat 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 sufficient heat available outside to heat the air inside to high enough temperatures needed to keep warm. So while a heat pump may be ideal during the winter months for someone in Daytona Beach, someone living in upstate New York with a heat pump would probably also need a furnace for the more extreme temperatures. If you don’t have a furnace that kicks in when the freezing temperatures hit, the heat pump can run for hours trying to keep your home warm enough. In some areas, heat pumps can be used as geothermal systems, and the heating source is better for the environment because it is not burning fossil fuels and, instead, uses the Earth’s natural temperature to heat and cool. This is a wonderful alternative for specific northern climates, but extra land must be available in order to install the needed piping for a geothermal system. We know, we know – you didn’t need another thing to think about when it comes to home comfort; but, remember, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each heating and cooling system so you don’t end up installing a system that shuts down when extreme temperatures hit, or investing in additional systems when one would suffice. If you still aren’t convinced which system is best for your home, call Mountainwest Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule a free in-home quote. We are happy to answer any and all of your questions to help you make the right decision for your home.