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Heat Pump or Air Conditioning?

Considering buying a heat pump for your Illinois home? A heat pump makes sense for many reasons, especially in climates like ours with relatively mild summers. Though our winters present a different challenge. For homeowners with a duct system, the main options are either whole-house air conditioning (central air) or a heat pump. But which one is best for your needs? They both have their pros and cons – and each share similar processes.

Both options are powered by outdoor units and use thermal energy to transfer heat in the air from one area to another. They connect by a line-set charged with refrigerant to a coil above the furnace. The main difference between the two is that a heat pump can both heat and cool the air by reversing the flow of refrigerant. A heat pump is an effective heating system in areas that experience mild winters. But when the temperature goes below 40 degrees, it switches the heating source to a furnace. In places like Illinois where winters can be exceptionally cold, using two heating sources might not sound ideal but can still help save a considerable amount on utilities.

So, heat pump or central air? We’ve listed the main features any household will need to know:

Heat Pumps:

  • Can result in lower annual heating and cooling bills (compared to central air systems)
  • Can be used with an energy-efficient geothermal heating system
  • Have a more environmentally-friendly heating source (not a dangerous fossil fuel)
  • Saves indoor space (that would otherwise be used for a furnace)
  • Don’t always require additional equipment for heating

Air Conditioners (Central Air):

  • Unlike a heat pump, a furnace will not shut down in freezing temperatures
  • A furnace does not require auxiliary heating for frigid temperatures
  • Are less expensive than a heat pump
  • Comparatively has fewer technical problems than a heat pump

During the warm weather months, the operation of a heat pump and an air conditioner are virtually the same. The basic performance and electricity costs are very similar, so the focus on each should be the heating methods and how they would compliment your home and seasonal weather. In general, people looking into buying a heat pump need their entire HVAC system overhauled. In more mild climates, a heat pump is one appliance that can do the job of two, which offers a more inexpensive mode of comfort. Heat pump technology is not as powerful as central air and will usually need a back-up in the winter. Central air systems are more versatile and offer better performance in extreme climates. Whichever system you choose, remember that Cassel Home Comfort can help with all of your heating and cooling needs