"Why would anyone want to replace their AC unit with something with the word 'heat' in it?"
It's a valid question! Heat pumps have a little bit of a misleading name. So which is better? An AC unit or a heat pump? We've got some answers for you.
How Do Heat Pumps Work?
- They pull the warm air from your home.
- The outdoor unit releases the heat into the air, cooling the air as it travels through the unit.
- Then the cool air is pumped back into your home.
Sound familiar? That's because it works pretty much the same way a standard AC unit does.
So what's the difference between a heat pump and an AC unit?
In the summertime, not much. What makes a heat pump different is its ability to use the same mechanism to heat your home in the winter as well.
What are the cost differences?
Typically, a heat pump costs more upfront than an AC unit. However, when you consider the fact that a heat pump works as both an AC unit and a heating unit, you're really getting two systems out of it, which can offset the price.
Is one more efficient than the other?
Again: in the summertime, not much. They operate basically the exact same way as an AC unit, but they save you a lot of money when it comes time for heating season. Heat pumps are an extremely efficient and affordable alternative to a furnace. Our own Department of Energy is a big fan, stating that they can lower energy usage up to 40%. Can you imagine how much that’d cut down on your energy bill in the winter?
Which lasts longer?
While an AC unit and a heat pump both last around the same amount of time, AC units are known to last a couple years longer, on average.
This, of course, depends on your maintenance schedule and overall usage. For example, an AC unit in Michigan (where it's naturally cooler for more of the year) will last much longer than an AC unit in Texas (when the sun scorches the earth 8-9 months out of the year). You also have to take into consideration that a heat pump is used year round in place of an AC unit and a furnace. It does twice the work to last almost just as long.
So which is right for you?
This comparison is just to give you a baseline understanding of the main differences between the two, but there’s a lot more to consider. It really comes down to your needs.
Are you looking to replace your AC unit, but don't plan on needing to replace your heater for another 3-5 years? Do you prefer your home to be really cold, and therefore run your AC pretty much year round? If either of these are the case, an AC unit like the Carrier® Infinity® system may be a better option for you right now.
However, if you're looking to replace both your AC unit and your furnace, or if you're looking for a long-term solution to make your home more energy efficient, a heat pump is your best option!