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How Is A Heat Pump Different From an Air Conditioner?

If you are trying to understand the difference between the heat pump and air conditioner then it would be interesting for you to know that a heat pump is basically an air conditioner that can reverse itself to provide heating.

It’s just for the understanding, but actually a heat pump is an HVAC system pumping air from one direction to another. It could be from inside to outside resulting in cooling or outside to inside resulting in heating. Knowing the difference between the heat pump and air conditioner is a good idea as it can help you decide which one is a viable option for you.

Do I Have a Heat Pump or an Air Conditioner?

Just check the manufacturer sticker on your unit and you would know whether you own a heat pump or an air conditioner. You can find the sticker on the side of the outside unit. You just have to do a quick search on Google so don’t forget to note the model number.

Doing an internet search would give enough information. In fact, it is a good idea to find out whether you have an air conditioner or a heat pump. When you are aware of the difference, it would be possible for you to know what to expect plus, you can focus on the maintenance accordingly.

How They Work

There is a similar process used by the air conditioners and heat pumps for transferring the heat energy.

A heat pump is taking heat from the outside environment and providing you indoors. And yes, even in the cold temperature it’s still extracting the heat. When the air is warm it is making the indoor environment cool.

If you talk about the AC units, it would be interesting for you to know that it works like the refrigerator. Coils and fans are involved in removing the heat from your room resulting in the cool temperature.

Depending on your preferences and budget, you can select the one you prefer the most.

Heat pump advantages over AC + furnace

If you plan on using the heat pump over AC + furnace then consider the following benefits:

When using the heat pump there is no need for going through the hassle of burning fossil fuels.

Using heat pumps would be suitable for the environment.

Since heat pumps are energy-efficient, it would be possible for you to save on the bills.

The overall cost of operating the heat pump would be lowered as there would be just one system to maintain and operate.

If you have a confined space, heat pumps can be a viable option.

Depending on your personal preferences and the relevant climatic condition, you can consider what’s best for you.

Cost to Purchase and Install

If you are considering an indoor unit for the heat pump system then the cost would be lower. However, this cost would be higher for an outdoor unit when you compare it with an air conditioner.

When you are installing just the heat pump then it would cost less as compared to installing an air conditioner combined with a furnace.

Energy efficiency/cost to operate

If you are living in an area with moderate climatic conditions then the HVAC system that would be suitable for your use would be a heat pump in terms of cost and energy efficiency. However, in case of extreme cold weather conditions, an air conditioner paired with a furnace would be a viable option as the heat pump combined with furnace can be costly in comparison.


In comparison, an air conditioner would last longer to a heat pump system. The reason is quite simple. You would e using the heat pump round the eyar as it is suitanle for cooling and heating. On the other hand, an AC unit it suitable for cooling. Thus, air conditioner gets a break during the winter.

Understanding Heat Pump and Air Conditioner Efficiency Ratings

The energy efficiency rating methods are different for air conditioners and heat pumps. Understanding the difference between the two is thus important.

The rating system for the heat pumps is HSPF which is an abbreviation for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor whereas the rating system used for the air conditioners is SEER which is an abbreviation for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.

The SEER rating system would tell how efficient your air conditioner is for cooling. On the other hand, the HSPF rating can tell you how efficient the heat pump is at heating.

When selecting the heat pumps you have to focus on the HSPF rating and SEER rating for the air conditioner. The higher the numbers, the better it would be.