Heat Pumps and Air Conditioners: Their Similarities and Differences

Heat Pumps and Air Conditioners

The choice over which heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system to use in a house is subject to several factors. Ultimately, an HVAC’s goal is to provide the inhabitants and users with a comfortable room temperature.Below, we are going to look at the similarities and differences between a heat pump and an air conditioning system. If you are trying to figure out whether to use air conditioners or heat pumpsin Whangarei or Auckland NZ, this guide is for you.


When it comes to cooling air in a room, a heat pump and an air conditioner function similarly and efficiently. The process of cooling a room involves warm air being absorbed by a device and transferred outside.Both systems utilize compressed refrigerants, collect heat from inside the room, and throw that heat outside which addresses the misconception that an air conditionercools the air in an enclosed space.

The truth is ACs remove heat energy in your room and pumps it outside, just like what a heat pump does when cooling a room. That’s why the area surrounding the air conditioner’s condenser is hot. As far as cooling function is concerned, they both operate in the same manner with minimal differences in efficiency and energy.


Air conditioners have no heating capability. It is typically paired with a furnace to bring the temperature up in a room or area in colder seasons. Aheat pump, on the other hand, can work inversely to its cooling function, thanks to a reversing valve found on its outdoor unit. It can absorb heat from outside and transfer it indoors, even under extremely cold conditions.

Simply put, a heat pump can cool and heat an enclosed space, an air conditioner cannot. For an air conditioner to complete the heating and cooling cycle, it needs the help of a furnace to do the job. As much as a heat pump can bring warmer temperatures indoors when the temperature hits below freezing, it will need more energy to maintain the temperature indoors. While they normally have a supplementary auxiliary heater, an additional furnace is recommended by the experts to act as a secondary heat source when the heat pump is no longer able to deliver.

What’s Your Pick?

Having said all that, which one should you go for? There are several factors to consider in picking the right HVAC for your home.

  • Purchase and Installation Costs.As in all things, the budget comes into play. Look at how much each unit costs and how much it will be to have it installed.
  • Energy Efficiency.The climate in your location will determine whether you need cooling or heating more. While a heater may seem the most practical choice, if your area’s climate usually hits below freezing temperature, having both a heat pump and a furnace to warm your house might cost you a little more than an AC and furnace.
  • Longevity.While several variables greatly affect HVAC units, an AC usually lasts longer than a heat pump mainly because they are used more often as they heat and cool your home.

Both HVAC systems are effective and efficient. You can always ask help from a professional to help you weigh your options and make a wise and informed decision.

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