What is the Difference Between An Air Conditioner and A Heat Pump?

image of an air conditioner compressor

There are many available options when it comes to choosing the best HVAC system for your home. Using an air conditioner in the summer and a furnace in the winter is one main approach. Besides that, there are alternative options like using a single heat pump throughout the year. This article compares air conditioners vs. heat pumps. We explain their similarities, differences, and optimal usage scenarios.

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How Are Heat Pumps And Air Conditioners Similar?

As a cooling solution, heat pumps and air conditioners are quite similar. Essentially, they use the same parts to work in the same way. Both heat pumps and air conditioners absorb heat from the inside the house and move that heat outside in cycles. They use a refrigerant for heat transfer and a compressor to maintain the cycles. This results in a gradual cooling inside the home until the desired temperature has been reached. The cycle continues once the temperature rises again. These cooling systems are considerably practical and proficient.

Differences Between A Heat Pump And An Air Conditioner

heat pump refrigeration cycle

So you might be thinking, what’s the difference? One main distinction is that heat pumps have a valve that can change the direction of the flow of refrigerant. By flipping a switch, the heat pump will gather heat from the outside of a house and bring that heat indoors. The cycle runs the same, but the refrigerant flows in reverse. During the colder, winter months, this is useful to heat your home.

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Which HVAC System Is Right For You?

Below, we discuss some factors to consider when choosing between an AC unit and a heat pump setup.

1. Cost To Purchase And Install

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When looking for a reasonably priced cooling system, many people tend to choose a window-type air conditioner. Starting off, these may cost less initially, but they come with high operating costs. They are also very inefficient and noisy. Additionally, they create the ideal conditions for mold and bacteria to grow. A heat pump has an indoor and outdoor unit. The outdoor unit is pricey to obtain and install. Although, it is necessary to consider that you are getting a cooler and a heater all in one, so the extra costs may be worth it for that aspect. The initial price you will have to pay will revolve around your home’s heating and cooling requirements.

2. Energy Efficiency And Cost To Operate

image of energy use and the hvac system

In terms of energy efficiency, heat pumps and air conditioners are very similar. Both cooling systems can come with high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) ratings. This measures the cooling output per electrical input. A higher rating is better because it means they can cool down an area with a small amount of energy. Ultimately, this will lead to decreased costs over time.

Switching from cooling to heating can be a little more challenging. Heat pumps work best when the temperature doesn’t go under freezing. In most places, they are able to heat up a home, productively using electricity throughout winter. However, they may not be able to heat a home as well in places that often have freezing weather and very cold winters. To resolve this issue, an additional furnace may help. For this reason, this hybrid system could end up more expensive than a furnace-air conditioner pair.

3. Longevity

All HVAC equipment will cost a decent amount, so it’s necessary to think about how long the equipment will serve you. Typically, air conditioning units last longer than heat pumps because of their length of use. Air conditioning units are only needed for the hotter months, but heat pumps are used the whole year. Because of this, heat pumps last less due to constant wear and tear. Regular HVAC tune-ups by professional HVAC technicians can help to increase the life of a heat pump.

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Ask An HVAC Expert To Find The Best HVAC System For Your Home

Installing an HVAC system can initially be expensive, but it can have a great impact on the family’s comfort. It is important that you are correctly informed about all your options. Consult an HVAC professional to ask all your questions and get the answers you need. Doing this will ensure you make the best decision for your home.

Expert HVAC contractors have lots of training and years of experience. They have the knowledge and skills to make sure you get what you need. They will be able to help you select heating and cooling systems that are the best for you and your needs. These will provide your family with great indoor air quality, comfort, and energy efficiency.

To get more information, schedule an estimate with a trusted HVAC company as soon as today. Each home and its needs are unique, so discuss your situation with a qualified professional.



It’s easy to be confused about all the information surrounding heat pumps and air conditioners. As discussed in this article, we learned that they have similar cooling methods, efficiencies, and performance. Heat pumps tend to be more adaptable with their capability to act as a heat source as well as a cooling source. They can be great heating systems in moderate climates. It is smart to have them checked out each year to lengthen their life span. Connect with a local heating and cooling company to see your options so that you can make your decision with certainty.


Call Lawes Company For Your Heating & Air Conditioning Requirements

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Lawes Company offers wonderful heating and cooling services in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, New Jersey. We hire NATE certified technicians who can give you great HVAC services. Some of our specialties include tune-ups, repairs, installations, and replacements. Every one of our techs has the expertise and knowledge to service your HVAC system accurately and with confidence.

Lawes Company ensures the most competitive heating and cooling service costs in this area. Our services can improve your family’s comfort, increase your energy efficiency, and reduce your home energy costs. If you are looking for an HVAC repair or replacement system, we can recommend the best and most cost-effective one for your home. All of our work is backed with a guarantee to ensure your satisfaction. Give Lawes Company a call today to schedule an appointment. We offer free, in-home estimates.

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