In the United States, most people use a furnace to heat their homes. Central air conditioners are pretty much standard when it comes to cooling them. But are separate heating and cooling systems always necessary? Depending on where you live, you may use only one system for half of the year, yet have to pay to maintain and repair both. Fortunately, there are other options, such as heat pumps, that Black Hills can install.
HVAC Systems Can Be Combined
You don’t need to have separate units. A heat pump combines heating and cooling capabilities in one system. It operates on electricity so you don’t need fuel for it. An evaporator absorbs heat while a condenser releases heat outside. When refrigerant moves one way, it extracts heat from outdoor air and transfers it through the lines and to indoor units. Thus, you get warm air blowing in winter.
Valves in the system allow it to operate in reverse. Therefore, in summer, the unit can extract warmth from inside your home, move it outside, and provide cooling. The way a heat pump works is much like an air conditioner. It’s just not that efficient in extremely cold weather; but if your region doesn’t typically see very cold winters, a heat pump may be the right solution year-round.
Benefits of Combining Heating and Cooling
A combined heating and cooling unit have many advantages over installing a separate AC and furnace. These include:
- Saved Space: You don’t need two different units in different parts of your home; this adds storage space and reduces clutter, which is ideal in a smaller house or apartment.
- Cost Savings: Just a single system, rather than both an AC and furnace, is purchased; a heat pump is usually less expensive than the combined cost of both.
- Simpler Maintenance: You can schedule maintenance service just once a year; conversely, an AC requires a spring tune-up and a furnace is inspected in the fall.
- Conserve Energy: Heat pumps move heat rather than create it, saving a great deal of energy. The very principle they operate on makes them more efficient so you save on energy costs year-round.
- Improved Home Comfort: In addition to heating and cooling, a heat pump is effective at regulating humidity and is quiet compared to other heating and air conditioning systems.
What About AC/Furnace Combo Units?
A combination air conditioner and furnace can be effective at cooling and heating your home. The mode they operate in depends on demand. If sized correctly, they’ll keep your home comfortable. However, the compressor unit is stored outside while a furnace, which can be a traditional or high-efficiency unit, is an independent piece of equipment. Similarly, a heat pump can be combined with a gas furnace (dual fuel system) although this setup is typically more expensive.
Some packaged AC systems use electrical strips to provide heating. A packaged unit contains the compressor, coils, and air handler inside a single cabinet. But in terms of climate control, efficiency, and quiet performance, ductless mini split heat pumps that Black Hills installs are often the best replacement option for older systems.
Consult with Black Hills Home Services
Separate heating and cooling systems aren’t always necessary. Heat pumps and other combined heating/cooling options can save energy and operating costs. And, you can rely on the same system all year. There’s no reason to switch between two units or have each serviced at different times. Installing a heat pump adds convenience and is a cost- and time-saving option for many households.