If you have been hearing about heat pump air conditioning lately, it is for a very good reason. Split system heat pump is an air conditioner that not only cools the air in the house in the summer, but, by reversing the cooling process, efficiently heats the house up in the winter as well. The energy prices are coming up slowly but surely, and most people are concerned with saving money on their utility bills!
In this brief article we will go over a few important points shedding light on the difference between a split system heat pump (HP) prices and a common air conditioner-furnace combo prices and costs for air conditioning your home. We will look at the price and long term economics of HP units and AC units with furnaces.
Pricing of heat pumps versus AC + furnace
There is a very small difference between heat pumps (HPs) and split system air conditioners. It is a switch that transforms an AC unit into a heat pump split system by reversing the role of the indoor and outdoor heat exchangers. So the cost of a HP is not much higher than the cost of an AC unit.
When you add the cost of the necessary furnace to the cost of the AC unit, you realize that the cost to purchase and install the AC unit and a furnace is higher than that of just installing the HP.
Operating efficiency of split system heating and cooling with HP versus AC + furnace
Because of the more versatile design of the heat exchanger designs in HPs systems (both inside evaporator must act as an evaporator as well as the compressor), the cooling efficiency of HPs is slightly lower than that of the AC conditioners. However, the big difference between the HP and the AC + furnace system shows up on your bills in the winter.
Since the furnace is simply burning the fuel, such as electricity or gas to produce heat, and the HP is using the fuel or electricity to transfer the heat from the outside of the house into the house, the energy efficiency of the HP system for heating your home is as much as double to triple that of the furnace.
Imagine your heating bill cut in half in the winter. That is what HP systems can do for you.
There is a small caveat to all this. Depending on the type of the HP (geothermal heat pump or air-air HP), the HP may not be highly efficient in heating your home under extreme outside temperatures, such as temperatures below freezing. Therefore, you may have to be ready with additional sources of heat for those (few?) days that the temperature is lowered to the extremes and the heating pump becomes unable to provide sufficient heating.
You must weigh this inconvenience against big savings on heating costs with a split system HP throughout the winter.