Cost Of Heat Pump Vs. Air Conditioner: Homeowner’s Guide 2023
When you are deciding on a new HVAC system for your home, you will probably be looking into the cost as a primary deciding factor. In this article, we will discuss the cost of a heat pump vs. air conditioner. Obviously, the initial cost is important, but it’s not the only thing to consider when you are choosing a new heating and air conditioning system.
I have been installing air conditioners and heat pumps for 15+ years now, and have learned a lot about these systems over time. Through training with experts at John Cipollone Inc., and also continuing to gain certifications and attending workshops to train, I feel pretty comfortable with helping homeowners choose the right system, and explaining the costs that come with it.
Heat Pumps Explained
Heat pumps are an energy-efficient alternative to traditional heating and cooling systems, such as furnaces and air conditioners. They work by transferring heat between the indoors and outdoors, making them versatile for both heating and cooling. In the context of heat pumps vs ac, a heat pump offers both heating and cooling capabilities, while an air conditioner only provides cooling.
Ductless Heat Pump Options
There are different types of heat pumps available, including air-source, geothermal heat pumps, and water-source options. Among these, ductless mini-splits have become increasingly popular due to their efficiency and ease of installation. They consist of an outdoor unit and one or more indoor air handlers, connected through refrigerant lines.
Ductless mini-splits utilize variable-speed motors and inverters, which allow the heat pump system to adjust its heating capacity or cooling capacity according to the needs of the space. This results in more precise temperature control and reduced energy consumption. Additionally, homeowners can opt for a hybrid setup, which combines a heat pump with a traditional furnace or air conditioner, offering enhanced flexibility in managing heat pumps and air systems for optimal comfort and efficiency.
Air Conditioning Systems Explained
Central Air Vs. Portable
Central air conditioners and portable AC units are two common types of air conditioning systems, both designed to provide comfort by cooling indoor air. Central air conditioners consist of an outdoor unit, an air handler, and a network of ducts distributing cool air throughout your home. The system utilizes a reversing valve to switch between cooling and heating, if necessary. Portable AC units, on the other hand, are standalone devices that can be moved from room to room, offering targeted cooling capacity.
A central air conditioning system is typically more efficient in cooling an entire home compared to portable AC units. It maintains consistent indoor air temperatures and can be connected to a furnace or heat pump for year-round climate control. However, central air conditioners require professional installation and regular maintenance.
Portable AC units are more flexible and can be easily installed without professional help. They are ideal for smaller spaces or for supplementing central air in specific areas. However, their cooling capacity is limited and they are less energy-efficient than central air conditioners.
Comparing Heat Pump Vs. Air Conditioner Costs
When comparing the upfront cost of heat pumps and air conditioners, heat pumps are generally more expensive, ranging from $4,200 to $7,600. Air conditioners have a slightly lower installation cost, ranging from $3,800 to $7,500.
Heat pumps tend to have lower operating costs than air conditioners, as they are more energy-efficient and reduce electricity use for heating by about 50% compared to furnaces and baseboard heaters, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. However, operating costs depend on factors such as the size of the system, the climate, and the energy efficiency of the equipment.
Energy efficiency plays a significant role in the cost difference between heat pumps and air conditioners. Heat pumps are more energy-efficient than air conditioners, as they use less electricity to provide heating and cooling. The energy efficiency of a system is measured by its seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating. A higher SEER rating indicates better energy efficiency, resulting in lower energy costs.
Service Life and Longevity
Air conditioners typically have a longer service life than heat pumps, as they only run during warm months, while heat pumps operate year-round. The life expectancy of both systems is influenced by factors such as maintenance, climate, and usage patterns.
Heat pumps have a lower environmental impact than air conditioners and traditional heating fuels, as they use electricity rather than fossil fuels for heating. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to a smaller carbon footprint.
Rebates and Incentives
Many incentives and rebates are available for energy-efficient systems, which can offset the upfront cost of heat pumps. Some programs offer tax incentives or rebates for the installation of heat pumps and other energy-efficient equipment. Right now through the Inflation Reduction Act, you can qualify for a tax credit of up to $2000 on an energy-efficient heat pump. There are rebates through PECO, Carrier, and the Electrical Association of Philadelphia.
Heat Pump Vs. AC Cost For Installation
One of the biggest factors in deciding between a heat pump and an air conditioner is the cost of installation. You’ll want to consider both the upfront cost and the long-term cost of ownership.
The cost of a professional installation can vary depending on the type and size of the system, as well as the complexity of the installation. On average, a heat pump installation will cost between $4,200 and $7,600, while a central air conditioning installation will cost between $3,800 and $7,500.
Heat Pump Vs. AC: Determining the Best Choice for Your Home
If you’re looking to invest in a new heating and cooling system for your home, choosing between a heat pump and an air conditioner can be overwhelming. Both systems have their pros and cons, and the right choice for you depends on a variety of factors.
When it comes to performance, both heat pumps and air conditioners are designed to keep you comfortable in the summer. Heat pumps are more energy-efficient than air conditioners because they transfer heat rather than generate it. This means that they can heat your home in the winter as well as cool it in the summer. Air conditioners, on the other hand, only cool your home.
Budget is another important consideration when choosing between a heat pump and an air conditioner. Heat pumps are typically more expensive than air conditioners, but they can save you money in the long run because they are more energy-efficient.
However, if you’re on a tight budget, an air conditioner might be a more affordable option. Keep in mind that the cost of installation will vary depending on the type of system you choose, as well as other factors like the size of your home and the complexity of the installation. Financing a new system can be a good move if it gets you the RIGHT system for your home.
The layout of your home is another important consideration when choosing between a heat pump and an air conditioner. Heat pumps require ductwork to distribute the air throughout your home. If your home doesn’t already have ductwork, you’ll need to factor in the cost of installation.
On the other hand, if you already have ductwork in place, a heat pump might be a more efficient choice. Air conditioners don’t require ductwork, but they do require an outdoor compressor unit, as well as an indoor fan/blower assembly.
A ductless heat pump is also an option if you didn’t want to install any new ductwork in your home.
Heat Pump Vs. AC Cost FAQs
Is a heat pump more efficient than AC?
Yes a heat pump is more efficient than an air conditioner. They also have the ability to comfort your home all year long.
Can a heat pump cool a house in 100-degree weather?
Yes, a heat pump can cool your house even in 100-degree weather. If you live somewhere with consistent 100-degree weather, a second cooling option may help.
Do Heat Pumps last as long as air conditioners?
Heat pumps don’t last as long as air conditioners do, but with regular survice and maintenance, they still last for 10+ years. It’s not much of a difference.