Difference Between Heat Pump & a Heating & Cooling System

A heat pump can provide energy and cost savings compared to conventional heating and cooling systems. In moderate climates, the installation and purchase costs of a heat pump can be less and will produce substantial savings to the homeowner over the lifespan of the equipment.

  1. Cooling

    • A heat pump and a cooling system have common mechanical components of a compressor, evaporator coil, condensing coil and an expansion valve. During the cooling phase, a heat pump and an air-conditioner operate the same by using a refrigerant to transfer heat from inside the house to the outside.


    • A conventional heating system burns a fuel, such as gas or oil, to generate heat. The burnt combustion gases must then be expelled outside of the house through a flue. A heat pump generates heat by extracting it from ambient air outside the house and transferring it by a refrigerant inside the house. The heat pump does not require a combustion flue since it does not burn a fuel.


    • A conventional heating and cooling system has a separate air-conditioning unit and a furnace. A heat pump is one unit that functions for both heating and cooling. The air-conditioning system will be idle during the heating season, and the furnace will be idle during the cooling season. Since a heat pump must do both heating and cooling, it runs year-round.


    • While a conventional heating and cooling system can be designed to handle the harshest climates, a heat pump works best in moderate climates where outside temperatures do not go below 40 degrees F for lengthy periods of time. Since the principle of a heat pump is to extract heat from outside ambient air, this process becomes more difficult and requires more energy as the outside temperature drops.


    • An air-conditioning system and a heat pump have similar fuel conversion efficiencies for the cooling cycle. For the heating season, a heat pump is more energy efficient as compared to a furnace because a heat pump transfers heat from one area to another instead of creating heat. A heat pump generates approximately two times more heat than the amount of energy consumed.

    Initial Cost

    • The purchase and installation costs of heat pumps and heating and cooling systems will vary depending on each homeowner's particular situation and climate. While a heat pump will cost more as compared to a furnace or air-conditioner separately, the heat pump functions for both heating and cooling. A homeowner must obtain cost estimates for both types of systems to make an accurate comparison of purchase costs.

    Operating Costs

    • The operating costs of an air-conditioning system and a heat pump are similar during the cooling season, but a heat pump will have energy and cost savings during the winter heating season. Energy costs for a heat pump are in the range of 25 to 30 percent less for heating as compared to a separate furnace heating system.

Related Searches


  • Photo Credit Close-up image of an electric range heating element image by Alexey Stiop from Fotolia.com

You May Also Like

Related Ads

Read Article

Fabulous Fall Decor: Seasonal Touches for Your Home and Table