Heat Pumps vs. Air Conditioners: What Are The Main Differences?


With all of the different variations and types of HVAC systems available, it can be difficult to determine which unit is the best choice for your Austin home. There are some similarities between these two types of cooling systems, but there are some major differences between heat pumps and air conditioners that can affect which one will meet your needs best.

Simply put, both systems use compressed refrigerant to take warm air from your home and transfer it outside. These two units function similarly and the outside portions of the systems look and run almost the same. Most homeowners will not notice a difference in energy costs or usage between an air conditioner and a heat pump. You can read below to learn more about the key differences between these two types of units and how to determine which one will work best for your home’s specific layout.

What are the Main Differences Between a Heat Pump and an Air Conditioner?

Both air conditioners and heat pumps function the same when on a “cool” setting, however heat pumps have an additional function that separates these two systems. Derived from its name, a heat pump has the ability to not only cool indoor space but can also provide heat. Home and business owners that have just an air conditioner for their space must also use another heat source like a furnace to keep their indoor space warm during the winter months.

Heat pumps are able to warm indoor air through a reversing valve in the system that works to pull heat energy from the outside air and transfer it to the indoor space. Due to this heat transfer, many heat pumps are unable to function during extremely cold temperatures and may even become damaged if the temperatures fall below freezing. The colder it is outside, the more energy a heat pump will need to work and provide warm air for your home.

How Do I Choose A System For My Home?

If you are looking for an HVAC system for your home, you may be overwhelmed with all of the different options available. It’s important to research all of the air conditioning units, the functions of the systems, and what your personal needs are. This will help make the process of finding a unit easy and it will ensure that the air conditioner has enough power to efficiently cool your indoor space. You can read more below on the factors you should consider when choosing a new HVAC system for your Austin, Texas home and the importance of a professional installation.

Consider The Upfront Costs

One of the most important factors to consider for anyone that is researching a new HVAC system is the upfront costs for materials and installation. It’s common for the indoor pieces of an air conditioning system to be affordably priced but some outside systems can come with a large price tag. You should also consider the price of labor to have the system installed and any costs you will need to keep up with over time such as maintenance or repairs.

Staying within your predetermined budget is important for several reasons including lower stress levels and the ability to maintain the system over time. Home and business owners local to the Austin, Texas area should call Austin AC with any questions on air conditioning installation prices or for a free estimate on services.

Cold Temperatures May Damage Heat Pumps

While homeowners in the Austin area do not have to worry about excessively cold temperatures, it is important to know that heat pumps struggle to work efficiently in cool temperatures. Even if the temperatures are not at freezing levels, a heat pump system can become damaged or nonfunctional if it becomes too cold outside. This can be an issue for those who are trying to be mindful of their monthly energy costs, as cold temperatures cause heat pumps to reduce efficiency and consume more energy.

Longevity and Level of Use

It’s also important for home and business owners to consider the level of use that the HVAC system will experience and the overall longevity of the unit. Air conditioning units are primarily used in the summer months, meaning there are many months out of the year that they are just sitting. On the other hand, heat pumps provide heating and cooling and are used throughout the entire year. This extreme use and little downtime can cause heat pump systems to stop functioning or need replacement parts sooner than a standard air conditioner. Even though heat pumps are known to stop working faster than an air conditioner, they are often more energy-efficient and reliable while they are in use. These are the important factors that you should consider when deciding which unit is right for your space.

Contact a Professional for HVAC Services

HVAC systems and air conditioning units are similar and both provide cooling to indoor air by removing heat energy from the space. Heat pumps have an additional function, as they are able to provide heat in addition to cooling. It’s important for homeowners to note the differences between these systems when choosing which one is best for their property. If you are looking for more information on heat pumps and air conditioners in Travis County, reach out to the team of NATE-certified experts at Austin AC. The team will be able to answer any questions and can even provide a free no-obligation estimate on AC services.

Call now! 512-598-6577