If you’ve never used a heat pump for home comfort before, you’ll likely have many questions about them. Most people in our area grew up in homes that used a combination of a furnace (gas or electric) and an air conditioner, usually housed in the same cabinet and using the same blower fan. A heat pump replaces both the air conditioner and furnace, working as a home’s combined cooling and heating system. It’s a great convenience, and if installed properly a heat pump can be a money-saving addition to a house.
But can a heat pump do as effective a job at heating and cooling as either a furnace or an air conditioner? Does the two-in-one functionality mean sacrificing power? Since summer is coming up, we’ll address the question of cooling first (and we will have a little to say about heating at the end).
The Question of Cooling
Here’s assurance right up front: yes, a heat pump can be effective as an air conditioner when it comes to cooling. Because a heat pump essentially is an air conditioner, but with additional technology that allows it to also work as a heater when desired. The cooling power of a heat pump is equal to the cooling power of an air conditioner that is the same size.
For example, if you purchase a heat pump with 3 tons of cooling (approximately 36,000 BTUs of heat removed from the house per hour), it will deliver the same amount of cooling as a 3 ton air conditioner. The heat pump will cost more than the AC, but that’s because of the features that allow it to also provide heating. Nothing about the heating function of the heat pump will lower its cooling power.
In fact, all that’s required to shift a heat pump from cooling mode to heating mode (and vice versa) is changing the direction refrigerant flows. When this direction changes, the heat pump will shift from removing heat from the house and exhausting it outside to moving heat from outside and sending it into the house.
A Note on Heating
If you’re thinking about installing a heat pump, you will have to think forward a bit to consider your heating needs. Heat pumps are different from using either gas or electric furnaces. A heat pump doesn’t generate heat the way a furnace does, but instead moves heat. This uses much less electricity than an electric furnace—sometimes more than half—which is why heat pumps are popular choices for all-electric homes. However, heat pumps can lose efficiency in extremely cold conditions because it becomes harder for them to extract thermal energy from outside.
If you’re looking to replace your heating and air conditioning in Chantilly, VA this spring, we recommend considering a heat pump. It may not be right for every home, but when you work with our technicians, you’ll end up with the new installation that matches your needs. We have served the area since 1957 and know the best ways to provide year-round comfort to local homes.
Call B&B Air Conditioning & Heating Service when you’re looking for great home cooling. We are always there when you need us.