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Do I Need a Heat Pump or an Air Conditioner?

You are probably aware that some people choose to use heat pumps instead of furnaces to heat their homes. But, did you know that people can also use heat pumps to cool their homes instead of having an air conditioning system? There are pros and cons for both heat pumps and air conditioners, and the debate over which system to use rages on.

 

How Do Heat Pumps Work?

 

In climates that don’t have extreme temperatures shifts, heat pumps are an energy-efficient alternative for homeowners to install instead of furnaces and air conditioners. Heat pumps work like your fridge. Using electricity, they move heat from a cool space to a warm space. This makes the warm space warmer and the cool space cooler. So, when it’s cold outside, heat pumps move heat from the cool outdoors into the warm house. When it is warm outside, heat pumps move the warmth from your home to the outside. You will notice that they are moving the heat, not generating it. This lets heat pumps provide the same amount of heating or cooling as a conventional home system, but on only one fourth of the energy cost.



How Do I Choose a System?

 

First, you need to understand your area’s climate zone. If you live somewhere that has all four seasons, and winter and summer are pretty brutal, you most likely need a traditional heating and cooling system.  A heat pump just couldn’t warm your home enough to make it worth your while, nor would it cool your house enough to make the energy expenditure worthwhile.

 

However, if you live somewhere that rarely sees temperatures below freezing, a heat pump could work well. If you live somewhere that rarely seems temperatures above 80 degrees, a heat pump would probably be the answer to your home cooling needs.  Temperature shifts wider than that are just too hard for the heat pump to compensate for.

 

Second, If you are thinking about your carbon footprint, you should understand where the energy comes that you’re using. Would having a gas furnace make more sense than using an electric means of heat, because the electricity you use is produced by burning coal? Are you comfortable with becoming reliant on a fossil fuel source for heat?  How do you feel about fracking?

 

You should also look at the energy rates. Are the rates offered by the electric company better than those the gas company has? Are the surcharges from one utility higher than the other?  Finally, understand that all heating and cooling systems have been vastly improved upon. They are much more efficient than they were even three years ago. Good luck with your decision!

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