Heat Pump vs. Air Conditioner: What’s Right for You?

Tired of the heat? An air conditioner sounds like the answer to your problems. But could there be another option? Heat pumps and air conditioners work with the same parts. Both use refrigerants. Both absorb heat from the inside of your home and push it to the outside. Then once your home reaches the desired temperature the unit will shut off. 

But during the winter it's time to flip a switch on the heat pump. Voila, instead of cooling your home the heat pump now gathers heat and pushes it into your home. This makes your home more eco-friendly. 

There are pros and cons to this 2-in-1 system, so read on to decide if a heat pump is right for your home. 

Pros of Heat Pumps

The main draw of a heat pump is the system can be used to both heat and cool your home. This eliminates the need for an individual AC unit and a heating unit, which would equal twice the repairs and maintenance.

Only one system to maintain

Highly Efficient

Heat pumps don’t use fossil fuels such as oil or gas. If properly maintained, they use less electricity and give more heating/cooling.

Heat pumps cost less to operate

Because Heat pumps are more fuel-efficient, they use less energy costing you less to operate.

Save space

Heat pumps are a bit smaller than air conditioners, and because you won’t need to also invest in a furnace, which will also take up a large amount of space.

Doesn’t Create Heat

A heat pump doesn’t create any heat through air heating. Its purpose is to move heat from either inside your house to the outside, or vice versa. This means you won’t need a furnace, and you won’t need to use energy to create heat for your home.

Cons of Heat Pumps

Less efficient in cold climates

A heat pump is less effective in climates where temperatures drop below freezing. Because it doesn’t generate its own heat, it will not be able to keep up with extremely cold temperatures.

May need supplemental heat

If you do live in a colder climate you may need to consider a way to add supplemental heat into your home. You could get a full heating system like a furnace, or a personal heater, or a fireplace. But to some this defeats the purpose of getting a heat pump to act as a single heating and cooling unit.

Bigger upfront cost

If you don’t need a heating unit, people won’t spend the extra on a heating pump or carrier coils.

Pros of Air Conditioners


Air Conditioners make less noise compared to heat pumps.

Can purify the air

Air conditioners often are equipped with filters that filter air pollutants and clean your air. Air conditioners also can be equipped with de-humidifiers to make the air in your home more comfortable.

Less upfront cost

The cost of the installation of an air conditioner is noticeably less than that of a heat pump. This makes an air conditioner unit more attractive to homeowners who live in warm climates and have no use for a heating system.

Cons of Air Conditioners

Can’t be used as a heating unit

The main difference between air conditioners and heating pumps is an air conditioner doesn’t have the capacity to provide heating in your home which can be a problem for HVAC in Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC areas.

High electricity bills

Air conditioners are less energy-efficient than Heat pumps and if your air conditioner is on for an extended time it can lead to higher energy bills.