Central Air Conditioner vs. Heat Pump Systems: Which Is Best?

If it is time to replace the cooling system in your home, you do have an option other than the traditional central air conditioner. Depending upon your home’s cooling needs and your budget, you may want to consider replacing your system with a Bryant heat pump system. Heat pumps are becoming more popular in areas across the United States where the climate is more moderate.

The investment in a heat pump may be more substantial upfront, but you will be paid back with years of reduced energy costs and decreased dependence on oil or natural gas. You may be eligible for rebates from your local utility company in addition to a federal tax credit for systems installed prior to December 31, 2013.

Benefits of a Heat Pump

A major benefit to having a heat pump is that it can serve a dual purpose by cooling your home during the warmer months and heat your home during the cooler months. In our area, you will most likely still need to use a furnace on colder days, but during moderately cool days, it may produce enough heat to warm your home sufficiently.

A heat pump may help your furnace run more efficiently at some cooler temperatures. It does this by pre-warming the air so that the furnace does not need to work as hard to heat the air it draws in through your ductwork. One drawback is that once temperatures drop below freezing, heat pumps do require more electricity to operate and are not as efficient.

With a heat pump continuously running, your home will not experience the sometimes uncomfortable temperature fluctuations that occur when a central air system or furnace start up with an initial spurt of cold or warm air. Temperatures will remain pretty consistent. A heat pump often will be more effective at removing more humidity from the air inside your home in comparison to a central air system.

How Do Heat Pumps Work?

There are generally two types of heat pump: the air source heat pump and the geothermal heat pump. For the purpose of comparison against central air systems, we will focus on the air source pump. Even though both operate in a similar manner, but pull heat from different natural resources and have a significant cost difference with the initial outlay for a geothermal system being much higher.

While both a central air conditioner and a heat pump use electricity to operate, they do work in different ways to cool your home. An air conditioner produces heat in order to provide cooling. A heat pump works instead by transferring heat from the air back and forth, from inside your home to the outside without producing heat, thus using less energy. In fact, a heat pump generates four times the energy that it consumes.

This is accomplished using refrigerant that is pumped through refrigerant lines that when in a gaseous state absorbs the heat within your house. The cooling process is completed when the gas continues to the compressor where it is subjected to high-pressure and releases the heat while being turned back to its liquid state.

When you want to heat your home with the heat pump, you simply switch to the heating mode. This reverses the direction in which the refrigerant flows through the system. Heat energy is then drawn from the air outdoors and transferred into your home. This is where many people become confused because even at temperatures in the mid-30s through mid-40s heat energy is still present in the air.

Decisions, Decisions

We know choosing a new system to cool your home can be a difficult decision. Either way, you really cannot go wrong whether you choose one of our high-efficiency Bryant central air conditioners or a Bryant heat pump. As a Bryant Factory Authorized Dealer serving the northern Virginia area for more than 20 years, the experts at Commonwealth Cooling & Heating are ready to help you in your decision.

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