Air Conditioner vs Heat Pump – What’s the difference and how to choose

When you are looking to make your home cooler it often gets confusing when heat pumps get thrown into the equation. In this video we look at what is the key things you need to understand when deciding to buy a heat pump or an air conditioner.

Hello, Steve here from FurnaceUSA and, have you ever wondered what is the difference between a air conditioner and a heat pump? Because the confusing part is, they look identical from the outside. So, you’re looking at two units. One is a box, one is a box. So, you might think, well you might as well just get a heat pump or you might as well just get an air conditoner. But there’s some pretty big differences between the two.
So, the primary difference between them. In the summertime, a heat pump and an air conditioner is the exact same thing. They do the identical thing. They both equally cool your house. A heat pump in the summertime, is an air conditioner. Mechanically, what’s going on inside the unit is identical to what’s going on virtually, inside of a heat pump. So, their both just cooling. So, the difference is in the wintertime, a heat pump can help your furnace save you some money on utilities.
So basically, this kinda comes down to, what it does. It absorbs heat from the outside and it brings that heat to the inside, and your furnace distributes it. So, where it gets a little bit tricky is that, depending on how much your electricity costs are in the area, relative to your gas costs. It can sometimes not be very cost effective to even have a heat pump. So, I’m up in the pacific northwest, and up here what the issue has been. If you go back a number of years, it used to be great, great value to put in a heat pump. So, what a heat pump could essentially do is just save you a ton of money on your utility bills because, electricity was relatively less expensive.
Because what you’re choosing to do in the wintertime is, use electricity to absorb heat out of the outside air. And it could absorb heat right down to like, minus 10 degrees or sometimes, beyond depending on the type of heat pump. So, it absorbs heat from the outside air. It brings that heat into the house and then, the furnace fan distributes it. Where either choice that you’re making is to basically, heat your house in a roundabout way with electricity, and a much more efficient way than electricity. Instead of using gas to heat your house, right? With, say like, natural gas to heat your furnace and heat your house up.
So, everything makes sense unless the … Unless utilities cost too much for the furnace, right? Or sorry, the utilities cost too much for the heat pump. If that’s the case, then you might as well just stick with a furnace. So, if your electricity costs are too high and for that, I would say just reach out to us and we can tell you for your specific area, if that’s an issue or not. But currently, in the pacific northwest, it’s usually a better value right now to just get an air conditioner instead.
So, why would you not just buy a heat pump every time if it could potentially save you some money? Well, relatively, they’re more expensive. They will cost you more either on a monthly plan, it will cost you more as a purchase. If you have to pay possibly, thousands of dollars more upfront for it, and if you’re only going to save a little tiny bit like, let’s say you’re going to save $50.00 per year, right? But it’s going to cost you $2,000.00 more upfront to buy a heat pump instead of just an air conditioner. It’s going to take you 40 years to pay for the cost differential. And really, the only benefit that you’re getting is that it’s going to save you a little bit money in the wintertime. Because in the summertime, it’s the exact same thing.
Generally, our opinion here at FurnaceUSA, is that air conditioners usually, are a better value unless some circumstances apply that makes a heat pump better value because maybe, your input cost for your furnace, whether it be propane or natural gas is higher, which makes the heat pump a better value or more cost effective. So, those are kinda your choices. But yeah, reach out to us today. Message us today, and we’ll give you lots more information about heat pumps and air conditioners here at FurnaceUSA.
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