Hansen Super Techs | HVAC, Electrical & Plumbing Mobile AL

Heat Pump vs HVAC – Which is Better Heating the South?

Oct 11, 2023 | HVAC

The South of the United States is known for many things. Its rich culture of music and arts continues to draw many people from all over the country and the world. The South is also frequently associated with warm and friendly hospitality and soul-comforting cuisine. But in the summer, the South is also known for warm, muggy summers brought on by its tropical climate. 

Whether you’re hosting a barbecue or just enjoying an evening at home, you will need a working Heating System to ensure that your house is as cool and comfortable through the summer months. Your HVAC system will also help you get through the chilly winter months that never pass Alabama by, either. 

If you’re searching for a new HVAC system for your hoHVAC system air conditioner. This blog will break down the basics of both HVAC systems to help you make an informed purchasing decision. 

Both HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems and heat pumps serve the purpose of heating and cooling spaces, but they operate differently. In many cases, an HVAC system typically refers to a setup where there’s a separate furnace (usually gas or electric) for heating and an air conditioner for cooling. On the other hand, a heat pump both heats and cools by moving heat from one place to another.

What is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is a mechanical device commonly used for heating and cooling buildings. Many homeowners enjoy using this type of HVAC system due to the dual heating and cooling function provided by this device. 

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

Heat pumps work by transferring heat from one location to another. To heat a home, the heat pump’s outdoor unit will absorb the heat from the outside air or ground with the help of a refrigerant. Using refrigerant, the system will compress it and increase the temperature and pressure of the absorbed heat. Once it hits the required high pressure, it is sent through the indoor unit and released into the home.  

To cool a home, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoor air, making the indoor space cooler. The refrigerant then evaporates into a gas as it absorbs heat. When the heat hits the required pressure, it is sent to the outdoor unit where it is released into the outside air. This action cools the temperature inside the home. 

Pros and Cons of a Heat Pump

Heat pump systems are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners seeking more energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions. While they are suitable for many homes in the South, they still have some advantages and disadvantages that must be adequately assessed. 

What are the Advantages of a Heat Pump?

Heat pumps offer several advantages, such as the following: 

  • High energy efficiency because they work by transferring heat rather than generating it
  • Heat pumps provide dual functionality by heating and cooling the home
  • Heat pumps produce lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuel-based heating systems
  • They distribute heat more evenly
  • Heat pumps last longer than a traditional air conditioning system

What are the Disadvantages of a Heat Pump?

While the advantages of a heat pump are surely worth their hype, there are still some disadvantages that are worth noting: 

  • Heat pumps are initially very costly to purchase and install
  • They are sensitive to the climate and do not work well in extremely cold weather
  • Your home may require an additional form of heating to keep you warm if temperatures tend to drop significantly during the winter
  • Heat pumps require a lot of space outside for their installation

What is an HVAC

An HVAC system stands for “Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.” It is a comprehensive system that provides heating, cooling, and ventilation to residential, commercial, or industrial spaces to maintain indoor air quality and comfort. The primary functions of an HVAC system are:

How Does an HVAC System Work

An HVAC system works by moving air between the inside and outside of a building or home while adjusting its temperature and quality to ensure indoor comfort. HVAC systems maintain indoor comfort by heating, cooling, cleaning, and ventilating the air. It achieves this through a combination of equipment, ductwork, and controls. Proper design and maintenance are crucial to ensure the system operates efficiently and provides a comfortable and healthy indoor environment.

Advantages of HVAC Systems

Air conditioning systems are highly prized and valued amenities that offer the following advantages: 

  • Functionality in Extreme Cold: Traditional HVAC systems, especially those with gas furnaces, can provide more consistent and potent heat in extremely cold temperatures. Some heat pumps, especially air-source ones, lose efficiency as temperatures drop significantly.
  • Lifespan: Traditional furnaces and air conditioners might have a longer lifespan when used seasonally (furnace in winter, AC in summer) compared to a heat pump that operates year-round for both heating and cooling.
  • Separate Systems: Since HVAC systems split heating and cooling into two units if one part breaks down (e.g., the furnace), you might still have the other part (e.g., the air conditioner) operational. With a heat pump, if it breaks down, you lose both heating and cooling functionality.
  • Fuel Choice: With an HVAC system, you can choose different fuel sources for heating, such as natural gas, oil, or electricity, depending on which is more economical or available in your area. This flexibility isn’t always present with heat pumps.
  • Performance: In areas with a cheap and reliable source of natural gas, gas furnaces can be very economical and can heat spaces rapidly.
  • Familiarity: HVAC systems have been around longer than heat pumps, so many technicians are familiar with their maintenance and repair.

Disadvantages of HVAC Units

As with anything mechanical, HVAC units also offer some disadvantages that must be weighed against the advantages: 

  • Many HVAC units require high levels of energy 
  • They aren’t always the best option for the environment
  • Old HVAC units use refrigerant fluids that contribute to ozone depletion and global warming
  • They are costly to install
  • HVAC units require a significant amount of maintenance and repairs to last 

Heat Pump vs. HVAC Cost 

Heat Pump 

Heat pumps are relatively expensive due to the equipment and labor-intensive installation. On average, the costs associated with purchasing and installing a heat pump can range from $1,500 to $10,000. 

HVAC System

The cost of an HVAC system depends on the type of system being installed, its manufacturer, and its size. The average home can expect to see prices range between $7000 to 12,500 based on these 2023 estimates.

Advantages of Heat Pumps

  • Efficiency: Heat pumps can be more energy-efficient than electric resistance heaters and air conditioners, especially in moderate climates.
  • Dual Functionality: They can both heat and cool, reducing the need for two separate systems.
  • Safety: There’s no combustion involved, which reduces risks related to carbon monoxide or potential gas leaks.]
  • Environmental Impact: Heat pumps can have a lower carbon footprint, especially when paired with renewable electricity sources.
  • Space Savings: A single unit for both heating and cooling can save space.
  • Potential Cost Savings: In areas with high electricity prices but mild winters, heat pumps might be more cost-effective than running a gas furnace and an electric air conditioner.

Efficiency of a Heat Pump

One of the reasons that many homeowners are drawn to heat pumps is their high efficiency. Heat pumps are more efficient because they transfer heat from the air or ground rather than use electricity or gas to produce it (like with AC units). Though initial installation costs are high, many homeowners see a reduction in their monthly bills after installing a heat pump. 

Air Conditioner Efficiency

The efficiency of an air conditioning unit depends on its condition, manufacturer, and Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER, the more efficiently the AC will work. It is also important to take into account the condition of your ductwork (for central air conditioning) and the air filters to ensure that the air is flowing smoothly through the home. 

Environmental Impact: 

Heat pumps can have a lower carbon footprint, especially when paired with renewable electricity sources.

Safety: 

There’s no combustion involved, which reduces risks related to carbon monoxide or potential gas leaks.

Longevity of a Heat Pump vs. HVC

The time you get with either heating system is also very important to assess as this will predict your future household spending. Let’s compare the durability and longevity of a heat pump vs. an air conditioning unit. 

Heat Pump 

Because most heat pumps are installed below the ground and require less maintenance than traditional air conditioning units, they tend to last 20 to 25 years! Just think; one heat pump system can get you through raising your kids! 

HVAC System

Air conditioners have a promising lifespan as well, but not as long as heat pumps. On average, an AC lasts about 15-20 years, depending on the level of maintenance it gets. 

Personalized HVAC Solutions for Your Home

Are you in need of a new heating and cooling system for your home? Reach out to the highly qualified and skilled heat pump and HVAC installers from Mobile, AL, at Hansen Super Techs. We will help guide your decision and provide our current discounts, promotions, and offers.