When most people think about cooling their home in Raleigh or Durham, they think about about air conditioning. They know that air conditioners blow cold air, and they think that this how they cool. The reality is a little more complex. Air conditioners don’t actually cool your house by blowing cold air. They cool by removing heat and humidity from the air – and that difference is important.
An air conditioner extracts the heat and humidity from the air inside your home and moves it outside. A heat pump does the same thing in the summer, but in the winter it can reverse this process, and extract heat from the outside air and move it inside your home. Air conditioners and heat pumps require an indoor coil to transfer heat, as well as a fan component to move the air it conditions. They can use an electric air handler (for electrically heated homes), or a gas or propane furnace.
For those who want more technical explanations, you can visit the EnergyQuest website or How Stuff Works for excellent video demonstrations. For those of you who don’t care HOW it works, only that it DOES, the important thing to remember is that these are both heat transfer devices, but a heat pump can heat as well as cool.
Because they are not creating heat (like a furnace), only moving it from one place to another, air conditioners and heat pumps are energy efficient. Advancements in the refrigerants and compressors over the past few years have made them even more economical. If your home already has an air conditioner, newer models can be 30% or more efficient than those manufactured just a few years ago.
Heat pumps tend to be most efficient when the outdoor temperature is over the freezing point. We’re fortunate that in North Carolina we have very few days of the year when temperatures dip below freezing – so heat pumps are a great option here. If you are interested in cooling your home, a heat pump can be a very attractive option.
Properly sized and installed duct work is critical for the proper operation of air conditioners and heat pumps. Remember – they rely on transferring heat from the air, so if airflow is inadequate they will not work properly. Heat pumps are especially sensitive to air flow, so there may be situations where air conditioners are a better option – unless duct renovations are being done. Your contractor should evaluate your duct work to ensure it is sized and installed properly.
For homes without central duct systems, ductless AC and heat pump units are a great option. And if you really want to maximize your energy efficiency, Geothermal heat pumps use the relatively stable temperatures found below ground to provide great indoor comfort year-round, along with exceptional energy savings.
The experts at R & S Mechanical Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Services can help determine whether a heat pump or air conditioner is right for your home. We serve Raleigh, Cary, Garner and beyond. Contact us online or give us a call at (919) 948-1351
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