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Heat Pump or Conventional AC: Which Is Better for Texas Homes?

When it comes to cooling, a heat pump and air conditioner are the same thing. 

The difference is that a heat pump can also heat your home in the winter, while a conventional AC cannot. If you opt for a conventional AC, you’ll need to pair it with a furnace or other heating system.

So, should you go for the heat pump or AC/furnace combo?

It depends. We’ll provide some general recommendations based on some common scenarios. 

Ask yourself the following questions, then jump to the section below that corresponds to your situation. 

  1. Do you have a natural gas furnace?
  2. Do you have an electric/propane furnace?
  3. Are you adding a central heating/cooling system for the first time?

Want a professional opinion? We can answer your questions and provide a recommendation on the best cooling/heating system for your home.

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For more information on our services and installation processes, visit our air conditioning installation or heat pump installation pages.

Scenario #1: Have a natural gas furnace?

If you already have a gas furnace, we recommend replacing your air conditioner with another conventional AC instead of a heat pump.

Why?

The main reason is that a regular AC is cheaper to install than a heat pump. Plus, pairing that AC with a gas furnace is cheaper to operate in the winter.

You see, a heat pump relies on electricity to heat your home. Since gas is cheaper than electricity, in the long run you’ll save more money by sticking with a gas furnace.

Additionally, some homeowners prefer the feel of a gas furnace compared to a heat pump. Gas furnaces deliver air between 120° and 125° F, while heat pumps output air between 90° and 100° F. Some homeowners find this higher output temperature to be more comfortable (likely because it is what they’re used to).

Note: Lower output temperatures don’t mean that the heat pump isn’t heating your home. In fact, because of the lower air output temperature it produces, a heat pump heats your home at a steadier pace. A gas furnace, on the other hand, blasts higher temperatures which means faster heating but more hot/cold spots throughout the house.

The bottom line? If you already have a gas furnace, it’s probably best to stick with that instead of buying a new heat pump.

Scenario #2: Have an electric furnace?

If you have an electric furnace, we usually recommend replacing both your AC and electric furnace with a heat pump.

The reason is electric furnaces are very expensive to operate. In fact, an electric furnace costs about 50% more to operate than a heat pump.

Of course, operational costs are only one factor to consider. You’ll also need to consider factors such as:

  • The upfront installation costs
  • Your family’s comfort preferences
  • How long you’re going to live in your house (to see if the long-term savings of a heat pump is worth it to you)

Because of those additional factors, if you have an electric furnace, we recommend you consult with an HVAC contractor to determine whether you should purchase an AC or heat pump.

Scenario #3: Adding a central heating/cooling system for the first time?

If you’re building a home or adding a central HVAC system to your home for the first time, we recommend that you contact an HVAC contractor to get their opinion. Since this decision depends on many factors specific to your family’s budget and heating preferences, it’s best to get advice from a pro.

That said, we’ll take a quick look at some of the pros and cons of each type of system.

Heat pumps

Pros:

  • Generally less expensive upfront (compared to installing an AC and furnace combo)
  • Steady airflow at a lower temperature, which means less hot and cold spots

Cons:

  • A heat pump uses electricity, which is more expensive to operate than a gas furnace
  • Some homeowners prefer a furnace because the air feels hotter than a heat pump

Air conditioner + gas furnace combo

Pros:

  • Gas is a cheaper fuel source than electricity, so you’ll save money heating your home in the winter (compared to a heat pump)
  • Higher output temperatures, which some homeowners find more comfortable

Cons:

  • Generally more expensive to install than a standalone heat pump
  • A furnace will typically heat a home faster than a heat pump, which can lead to more cold/hot spots in the home

A third option: Dual-fuel system

If you want the best of both worlds, one option is to install a dual-fuel system. A dual-fuel system is the combination of a heat pump and a gas furnace.

The benefit of a dual-fuel system is that you’ll save money in milder cold temperatures when you use your heat pump. Then when it gets really cold, your gas furnace will kick in. Since gas furnaces have the cheapest operational costs for cold temperatures, you’ll end up saving money in the long run.

That said, dual-fuel systems can be expensive to install. If you’re interested in a dual-fuel system, contact a professional to see if it would work for your home and budget.

Want a recommendation from a Texas HVAC pro? We can help!

Button: Contact us today

We’ll help you find the best heating/cooling system for your home and budget. Our comfort specialists aren’t pushy—they just provide honest, upfront recommendations based on your needs.

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Mail

401 South 13th Street,
Waco, TX 76706

Phone

254.537.9067

 

 

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