You may have decided that your old air conditioning system has just gone through its last summer of cooling your home. Time to replace it. But replace it with what?
You might automatically think, “With another air conditioning system, of course.” But this isn’t your only option. You might find that putting in a heat pump is a much better choice than going with a standard air conditioning system.
What a heat pump does
Essentially, a heat pump is an air conditioning system that can change the direction it works so it can also operate as a heating system. A standard air conditioner moves heat out of a house and releases it outside, which lowers the temperature of the air indoors. It does this by evaporating cold refrigerant along the indoor evaporator coil, and then condensing hot refrigerant along the outdoor condenser coil.
A heat pump works the same way, except it has a component called a reversing valve that causes the two coils to swap jobs by reversing the direction of refrigerant movement when it exits the compressor. Now the heat pump is removing heat from the outdoor air and moving it (pumping it) into the house. It’s an elegantly simple concept and it only requires an adjustment on the thermostat to make the switch between modes.
The heat pump in heating mode
You may have found what looks like a flaw in our description of a heat pump. If the heat pump only runs in heating mode during cold weather, where is it getting the heat from the outdoors?
No matter how cold it gets outside, there is always some heat in the air for the heat pump to access. A heat pump can lose energy efficiency if the temperature outdoors is too cold, but a heat pump in St. Bernard, LA won’t encounter this problem—our coldest winter days won’t force a heat pump to work harder. In fact, we have the ideal climate for a heat pump.
A heat pump in heating mode can also save money compared to using an electric furnace. Heat pumps use electricity to move heat, not generate it like furnaces, and this consumes much less electricity.
Is a heat pump a good choice for you?
If this all makes it sound like a heat pump is an obvious pick to replace an air conditioner, there are some caveats. A heat pump is more expensive than purchasing an air conditioner, so for it to be worth installing, it must replace both the air conditioner and the heater in your house. Purchasing it to only do half its job is a waste of money. If you don’t have plans to put in a new heater in the near future, then a heat pump may not be the best choice. If your home has a natural gas line and a gas furnace, you may be better off staying with the gas furnace and making the most use of your natural gas.
If you have any questions or you want a professional opinion about a heat pump, we’re glad to help.
Gowland’s Heating & A/C values “Relationship Over Revenue!” Call us for air conditioner and heat pump installation.