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LCS News
Is It an Air Conditioner or Is It a Heat Pump?
July 9, 2013
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We hear people say all the time that they don’t know what to call the thing that cools their home.  Is it a condenser?  An air conditioner?  A heat pump?  A condenser is the term used to describe the outdoor unit that cools your home, which can be either an air conditioner or a heat pump.  The primary difference between an air conditioner and heat pump is that the air conditioner is used to cool a space while a heat pump can heat and cool a space.   There are definitely important factors to consider when looking into purchasing air conditioner or a heat pump.

A heat pump acts just like an air conditioner in the summer months.  The purpose is to cool your space and lower humidity levels.  During the winter months, a heat pump will also produce heat to warm your home or office.  Whether you have an air conditioner or heat pump, you’ll also have either a gas or electric furnace to go with it.  A heat pump efficiently produces heat until the outdoor temperature drops to about 30 or 35 degrees.  In very cold weather, the heat pump will not be able to keep the desired temperature inside.  At that point, the furnace, located indoors, will turn on to help warm the home to the temperature set on the thermostat.  If you have an electric furnace, it will start to run with the heat pump.  If you have a gas furnace, the system will automatically switch from the heat pump to the gas furnace.

Which makes most sense for your home or office–an air conditioner or heat pump?  If you have an electric furnace, also called an air handler, it’s highly recommended to pair that furnace with a heat pump.  It’s quite expensive to run an electric furnace by itself.  Since a heat pump is much more efficient, your utility costs will be much lower if you have a heat pump to use in the winter.  The electric furnace will then act as your back-up heat.

If you have a gas furnace, it’s really personal preference.  If you are used to the heat produced by a gas furnace, you may not like the heat produced by a heat pump as it is a cooler heat.  If you are likely to use the gas furnace all winter, then it might make more sense to pair it with an air conditioner, which often has a lower upfront cost.  However, if utility costs are a priority, it might be a better option to have a heat pump installed.

There are lots of questions to ask when considering a new air conditioner or heat pump.  Feel free to contact us anytime!