In many ways, the systems are similar: both are powered by outdoor units, and both use thermal energy to transfer heat from one place to another.
Each also uses indoor and outdoor coils to transfer refrigerant, too. But how they do it marks the difference between the two systems: while A/C units limit the expansion of refrigerant to their indoor coils, a heat pump allows this process to reverse – which enable the indoor coil to be used for either expansion (cooling) or compression (heating).
The heat pump’s main advantage is it can both cool and heat efficiently (a heat pump is typically 3-4 times more efficient than an electric heater), so you can use it most of the year. If you already have an efficient home heating system, a heat pump can be integrated with it to give you a hybrid system with superior efficiency (and lower bills).
A heat pump investment could pay for itself in the savings of heating costs alone – meaning your air conditioning would basically be free.
A heat pump is also a very “green” way to heat and cool your home, since it draws its heating and cooling from a sustainable source (air, or the ground in geothermal models).
The main advantage of modern, high-SEER central air units are that they do one job exceedingly well: they provide a cost effective, quiet, and reliable way to cool your house.
A central A/C also costs less upfront than a heat pump – sometimes significantly so. They do not, however, offer the option to heat your home.
Still need help deciding between central air and a heat pump? Contact Jennings Oil for a FREE consultation and estimate today!