When it comes to replacing an HVAC system at the Lake of the Ozarks, people sometimes inquire about heat pumps and whether they might be a better option. At Royal Heating and Air, our technicians hear it all the time, but the answer to that question is unique to each client depending on a number of factors. To help you understand why, we thought we would take some time today to talk about heat pumps and how they work, what makes them different, and how to make a good decision on which one is right for you.
A traditional air conditioner does not add cool air to your home, it removes heat from the air in your home. It does this as it draws air into the indoor air handler through the return vents in your ductwork. The warmer air passes over cooling coils filled with refrigerant and the heat is absorbed into the refrigerant. The refrigerant circulates through the system to the outdoor unit where it releases the heat into the great outdoors. A heat pump will work based on the same principle to cool the air in your home.
Where they differ is in the heating side of the HVAC system. Air conditioners only cool, so for heating you have to have a separate furnace unit. Heat pumps are able to heat AND cool with the same unit. It does so by basically reversing the process it uses for cooling … taking heat from outside and absorbing it into the coils and releasing it into the inside air handler to be circulated in your home.
But because heat pumps take heat from the outside, they are limited in their heating efficiency when temperatures are below 25-30 degrees. In areas where it is not uncommon for temperatures to fall below that, it may be recommended to have a backup heat source or furnace as well. On the other hand, a traditional air conditioner is only very efficient when the indoor and outdoor temperatures are only about 20 degrees apart or less. But a heat pump will remain just as efficient in those higher temperatures.
To compare price differences you really have to look at several factors to know which one will cost you more in the long run. Because it is not just about upfront cost, it is also about efficiency and what it costs to run each type of unit where you live. Here in Missouri that can be tricky. If you live somewhere that often has extreme heat and rarely gets below freezing, the heat pump is a no brainer. But if you have more days per year below freezing days than above 90 degrees a traditional HVAC system may make more sense. In Missouri we get quite a mix. It also matters if you really only need to replace the heating OR cooling part of your system whether it is a good idea to switch your type of system.
In reality a reputable HVAC company at the Lake of the Ozarks is needed to help you analyze all these factors. Our owner would be happy to look at your current system and, talk with you about your options so you could really compare costs and make a fully educated decision. If you have questions about heat pumps versus air conditioner and furnace systems, give us a call anytime. We are the king of comfort and are always on your team to provide for all your HVAC needs.