Here in Fresno, CA, efficient air conditioning is a homeowner’s key to comfort and keeping their budget under control. For that reason, most homeowners go looking for the most efficient air conditioner they can afford when their home needs a new AC system. Today, however, homeowners have more choices for efficient home cooling than ever before. One of those choices is a heat pump. They’re ultra-efficient two-in-one systems that can both heat and cool your home. But which is a better option — a standard central air conditioner or a heat pump? Here’s how to make that choice when the time comes for your California home.

The Difference Between an Air Conditioner and a Heat Pump

Choosing between an air conditioner and a heat pump can be confusing. Especially when you consider that all air conditioners are heat pumps, but not all heat pumps are air conditioners. Here’s what we mean by that.

A heat pump refers to any device that can move heat from one location to another, typically using a refrigerant as the medium. That’s just what an air conditioner does. It manipulates the pressure of a refrigerant to cool it, use it to absorb heat from your home, and carry it outside. It’s the same thing your home’s refrigerator does.

However, a heat pump can do something a conventional air conditioner cannot. Through the use of a special valve, a heat pump can operate in reverse. In that mode, a heat pump can harvest heat energy from the outdoor air, amplify it, and carry it indoors to heat your home. This is the process that makes a heat pump one of the most efficient forms of residential heating system on the market today.

In heat mode, a heat pump can operate at efficiency levels approaching 400% in optimal conditions. That’s over four times as efficient as the best gas furnace you can buy and vastly more efficient than an electric furnace. What’s more, the climate here in Fresno is about as perfect for a heat pump as it gets. That means you can expect a new heat pump to deliver maximum efficiency for the majority of the time here.

Reasons to Choose a Heat Pump Over an Air Conditioner

Although your familiarity with conventional air conditioners might make you hesitant about a heat pump, there are plenty of good reasons to choose one. Here are the situations when it would make the most sense to choose a heat pump over an air conditioner.

Your Home’s Furnace Is Wearing Out

A heat pump is a great choice if you’re looking to replace both your existing central AC and furnace at the same time. Since heat pumps offer the most efficient heating you can get, they are the best option when you need to replace your furnace. And heat pumps are among the most efficient cooling options on the market, too. They compare favorably to and even exceed the performance of the highest-end central AC systems you can buy.

You’re Fully Electrifying Your Home

As a California resident, you likely already know that our state government is making efforts to end the sale of gas furnaces and water heaters in the coming years. Although the end of such sales is still a way off, plenty of California homeowners are already working to fully electrify their homes. If that’s your goal, a heat pump is the right choice. It will eliminate any need for a conventional furnace, while still offering highly efficient cooling.

You’re Going Solar

Heat pumps also make a great choice if you’re planning to add a solar power system to your home. Their superior energy efficiency helps reduce your household electricity demand. That can help you cut down the size of the solar power system your home needs to achieve self-sufficiency. This is especially true if you’re planning on installing a battery bank since it could provide off-grid power to your heat pump at night.

Reasons to Choose an Air Conditioner Over a Heat Pump

Even though heat pumps enjoy several advantages over conventional air conditioners, they’re not the perfect solution in every case. Here are some of the situations when an air conditioner might make more sense than a heat pump.

You’re Concerned About Upfront Costs

If your household budget is tight, you might want to choose a conventional AC over a heat pump. Heat pumps are more expensive than the average AC system. This means that, depending on the size of your home, a heat pump could cost you anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars more than a comparable air conditioner. However, heat pumps do qualify for some federal tax refunds and credits that can narrow the difference in price significantly.

You’ve Recently Bought a Furnace

If your home already has a relatively new furnace, you might wish to choose an air conditioner over a heat pump. This can help you align the lifespans of your HVAC components, allowing you to switch to a heat pump further down the line. This often works because of the differing lifespans of the average AC and furnace. If you install a new air conditioner today, you can expect about 15 years of reliable service from it. By comparison, a gas furnace can last up to 30 years with proper care. So, if your existing furnace is under 10 years old or so, it should be ready for replacement at just about the same time as your new air conditioner.

You’re Concerned About Ongoing Maintenance

While heat pumps are reliable and last for just about as long as an air conditioner, they do tend to need more maintenance. This makes sense when you consider that a heat pump must operate year-round while an AC doesn’t have to. Plus, owning a heat pump means you can’t delay any necessary maintenance as the seasons change. With an AC, for example, you could delay a repair for a little while if something goes wrong at the end of the summer. With a heat pump, there’s no off-season, so you have to address necessary repairs immediately.

Your Heat Pump and AC Source

The good news is that whether you choose an AC or a heat pump for your Fresno home, Grandmark Service Company can help. We sell, install, maintain, and repair all kinds of HVAC systems. We’re just as adept at working with the latest heat pumps as we are with furnaces and air conditioners. Plus, we offer comprehensive roofing services, solar power, indoor air quality, and commercial HVAC services, too. We’re also Better Business Bureau accredited and maintain an A+ rating, so you’ll always know you can count on us to provide quality workmanship. We can even help you finance your new heat pump or air conditioner on approved credit if you need help paying for it.

When the time comes for a new heat pump or air conditioner for your Fresno home, call the experts at Grandmark Service Company right away!

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