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Should You Replace Your AC With a Heat Pump?

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If your old AC unit is on its last legs, you might be wondering whether to replace it with a heat pump. Heat pumps are a popular choice these days, but they’re not right for every situation. In this blog post, we’ll explain when you should consider replacing your AC unit with a heat pump, and what some of the costs and considerations are. So if you’re wondering whether a heat pump is right for you, read on!

Basics of Heat Pumps

A heat pump is an HVAC system that uses the same technology to both cool and heat your home. It works by moving hot or cold air from one place to another, depending on whether you’re trying to cool or warm up the interior of your home. It works very similar to a refrigerator moving heat from inside the unit and blowing it outside.

Additional reading: Heat Pumps 101: How Does a Heat Pump Work?

Air Conditioners vs Heat Pumps

This may be hard to believe, but when we experience cooling relief in our homes or offices it isn’t truly cold. It is the absence of heat and humidity. Your HVAC system removes heat energy and humidity from warm air so that you can stay comfortably cool regardless of the weather outside. 

An air conditioner is a central cooling HVAC system that typically uses fuel to cool a home or office. AC units move heat from the inside of your home by passing air over refrigerant coils that remove the heat and then blowing it outside.

A heat pump works in much the same way as an air conditioner but it does not burn fuel. Instead, it uses electricity as its energy source. Both AC and heat pumps use refrigerant to transfer heat from one location to another, but the main difference is the direction in which the heat is moved. An air conditioner moves heat from inside a building to the outside, while a heat pump can move heat in both directions, from inside to outside, and vice versa. This means that a heat pump can both cool and heat a building, while an air conditioner can only cool it.

When To Replace an AC with a Heat Pump

If you’re looking for a way to replace your air conditioner with a heat pump, there are a few key indicators that it’s the right time to make the switch. If your air conditioner is more than 12 years old, or you’re seeing higher energy bills, then replacing your AC with a heat pump may be a good idea. Another sign to consider is if your air conditioner has been needing more and more repairs over time. If this is the case, it may be more cost-effective to replace your air conditioner with a heat pump.

Do Heat Pumps Work in Hot Weather?

Heat pumps have been around for a long time – the first documented one in the 1850s. As heat pump technology has improved so has their ability to work in hotter weather. Heat pumps can be effective during hot spells, however, the efficiency decreases as temperatures rise. If you’re looking to maximize your heat pump cooling efficiency in the summer, then the optimal operating temperature should be 20 degrees lower than that of the outdoors. So if it is 100 degrees outside, a heat pump, like an air conditioner, will optimally work when your thermostat is set at 80 degrees.

Do You Need an Air Conditioner with a Heat Pump?

You don’t need an air conditioner with a heat pump. Heat pumps work by transferring heat from one area to another in order to provide both cooling and heating for your home. In the summer, they take heat from inside your home and send it outside. When you replace an air conditioner with a heat pump, you’ll still get the same cooling effects in the summer but also be able to enjoy warmth during the colder months without having to switch systems.

Replacing your Central Air Conditioner with a Heat Pump

When you replace an air conditioner with a heat pump, you’ll typically need to replace the entire system. This means that you may need to make some modifications to your existing ductwork and other components of your HVAC system. A professional can help advise on what changes are necessary for your unique setup. It is important to get the correct-sized heat pump for your home for it to work efficiently and keep your home comfortable. A professional can help you find the right system to invest in.

What are the Benefits of Switching from Central Air to a Heat Pump?

Switching to a heat pump system is beneficial in that you can use the same system for both cooling and heating. During the warm summer season, heat pumps and air conditioners with higher SEER ratings offer energy-efficient cooling. Think of it as a miles-per-gallon or mpg rating on a car: the more energy efficient your system is, the better! They give you a standard measure of efficiency so you can compare different models.

What are the Costs of Replacing a Central AC Unit with a Heat Pump?

The cost of replacing a central air conditioner with a heat pump will vary depending on the size of your home and the type of system you choose. Generally speaking, it will be more expensive than replacing an air conditioner alone since you will need to replace both the cooling and heating components.

In addition to the cost of equipment, there may be additional labor costs associated with the installation. Additionally, if you are replacing an air conditioner that is more than 10 years old, it may require additional work to replace other components such as ductwork and air handlers.

Difference between Ducted and Ductless Heat Pumps

When deciding to replace your air conditioner with a heat pump, it is important to consider the type of system you will be using. There are two main types of systems: ducted and ductless.

Ducted systems are more traditional and involve running ductwork that circulates hot or cold air throughout your home. This type of system requires more installation work and can be costly if the ducts need to be replaced or repaired.

Ductless systems use individual units that sit on the wall or ceiling in each room, which connect to an outdoor unit via refrigerant lines. Typically ductless systems offer more flexibility in terms of zoning, as different areas can be heated and cooled independently giving you more control. These systems are about 30% higher to install than traditional AC systems but reduce utility costs and require less maintenance than ducted systems which makes them a great long-term investment.

What is a Mini-Split System?

A mini-split system is technically a heat pump that both cools and heats from a wall or ceiling-mounted unit that is connected to an outside unit. The indoor unit houses the evaporator coil and blower fan, while the outdoor unit contains the condenser coil and compressor. The two units are linked together with copper tubing and electrical wiring to provide heating and cooling to the home without the need for ductwork to be run throughout the home.

What are the Benefits of Choosing a Ductless Heat Pump?

Installing a ductless heat pump allows you to replace an existing air conditioner with a more efficient and cost-effective heating and cooling system. Heat pumps are much quieter than traditional air conditioners, and they are also more energy efficient. With a mini-split system, you can control the temperature in each individual room rather than having one setting for the entire house. This allows you to maintain a comfortable temperature in each room without wasting energy by cooling rooms that are not being used.

Best Scenario for Switching to a Heat Pump

When it comes to deciding between an air conditioner and a heat pump, it’s important to consider the climate in your area. Heat pumps can be more efficient than air conditioners in milder climates like the Pacific Northwest. The best scenario for switching from a central air conditioner to a heat pump is when you can take advantage of the heat pump’s ability to efficiently cool and heat your home. If your furnace is not ready to be replaced it may be better to just get a new AC unit.

Considerations Before Replacing Your Air Conditioner with a Heat Pump

When considering replacing your air conditioner with a heat pump, you will want to factor in things such as the size and layout of your home, how many rooms require cooling, and your budget for the project.

Heat Pump Replacement in Portland

Heating and cooling technology have come a long way since the early days. Since 1952, Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning has been installing the most efficient and reliable systems throughout the Portland, Oregon area, making sure our customers stay comfortable and healthy all year round.

Homeowners know they can rely on our craftsmanship and prompt, friendly service anytime they need a heat pump installation, repair, or maintenance. We’re here to answer your pressing questions, help you make the right decision for your home, and keep you and your family comfortable year-round. Call us at (503) 444-8470 or contact us online with any questions.

About the Author

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Amanda Jacobs, Internal Project Manager

Amanda Jacobs is an Internal Projects Manager and 3rd generation member of Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. She received her MBA from Seattle University and has worked for a leading HVAC training and consulting firm. When not talking HVAC on the Jacobs Blog, you can find her on the golf course or whipping up her famous vegan chili.