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Is A Heat Pump More Effective at Cooling or Heating?


One of the main reasons that homeowners have heat pumps installed in the first place is because they provide a fantastic two-in-one package deal: an air conditioner and a heating system. It only takes a single adjustment on a thermostat to change a heat pump from heating mode to cooling mode and vice versa. But are heat pumps equally effective at heating and cooling? Read on for our take on multiple factors related to this question.

Does a heat pump use more electricity for heating or cooling?

Put simply, heat pumps use less energy in cooling mode – by about 5 times, in fact. The reason for this is that heat pumps draw hot air from outside when in heating mode, and since this mode is usually only used in cold weather, there isn’t a ready supply of heat for it to absorb. The heat pump therefore has to draw what air it can get in, heat it up, and distribute it to your home – hence the extra energy needed.

Which is better: a heat pump or AC system?

Great news. In all the important ways, heat pumps function the exact same way as a conventional air conditioner. The only material difference is that a heat pump can conduct its process in reverse to provide heat. It’s a two-way air conditioner, and so if you’re comparing apples to apples, they perform similarly. The heat pump just does more!

Why is my heat pump blowing cold air instead of heat?

We get this question a lot, so we thought we’d break down the three most common reasons this might happen:
  1. The heat pump is not actually blowing cold air. What might be happening is that your heat pump might be blowing air that’s cooler than your body temperature, meaning you’re perceiving it as colder than it actually is.
  2. The heat pump could be in “defrost mode.” When in heating mode, the pump’s coils can frost over whenever outdoor temperatures dip below freezing. To prevent this, heat pumps are designed to automatically switch into defrost mode – or cooling mode. This causes the coils to heat up and melt any ice build-up. And yes, this means it will blow cold air at you for a few minutes – be patient. It will pass. Unless it doesn’t. In which case…
  3. There might really be something wrong with the heat pump. Yes, we here at Raleigh Heating & Air love heat pumps, but they’re not infallible! Some common problems that would cause a cold air switcheroo include:
  • A refrigerant leak
  • A defective reversing valve
  • Parts of the heat pump outside are frozen or faulty
  • The heat pump needs efficiency servicing
If you suspect your heat pump needs a little TLC, we’re here to provide fast and friendly service. Learn more here.

The Bottom Line

You should definitely consider a heat pump for your home. Unless the weather drops below freezing, a heat pump is still more energy-efficient than a combustion system heater (like a gas furnace) or electrical resistance heater (like an electric furnace). For most homes in the Raleigh, NC area, a heat pump can provide the right level of comfort for the winter and end up costing less to run than other alternatives. Plus, you have the benefit of cooling that is as powerful as any air conditioner of comparable size. If you are interested in installing a heat pump for your home, call us at (919) 635 8451 or contact us online. Raleigh Heating & Air is here to provide the skilled assistance you need.
Raleigh Heating and Air