Is It an Air Conditioner or Is It a Heat Pump?

We hear people say all the time that they don't know what to call the thing that cools their home.  Is it a condenser?  An air conditioner?  A heat pump?  A condenser is the term used to describe the outdoor unit that cools your home, which can be either an air conditioner or a heat pump.  The primary difference between an air conditioner and heat pump is that the air conditioner is used to cool a space while a heat pump can heat and cool a space.   There are definitely important factors to consider when looking into purchasing air conditioner or a heat pump.

A heat pump acts just like an air conditioner in the summer months.  The purpose is to cool your space and lower humidity levels.  During the winter months, a heat pump will also produce heat to warm your home or office.  Whether you have an air conditioner or heat pump, you'll also have either a gas or electric furnace to go with it.  A heat pump efficiently produces heat until the outdoor temperature drops to about 30 or 35 degrees.  In very cold weather, the heat pump will not be able to keep the desired temperature inside.  At that point, the furnace, located indoors, will turn on to help warm the home to the temperature set on the thermostat.  If you have an electric furnace, it will start to run with the heat pump.  If you have a gas furnace, the system will automatically switch from the heat pump to the gas furnace.

Which makes most sense for your home or office--an air conditioner or heat pump?  If you have an electric furnace, also called an air handler, it's highly recommended to pair that furnace with a heat pump.  It's quite expensive to run an electric furnace by itself.  Since a heat pump is much more efficient, your utility costs will be much lower if you have a heat pump to use in the winter.  The electric furnace will then act as your back-up heat.

If you have a gas furnace, it's really personal preference.  If you are used to the heat produced by a gas furnace, you may not like the heat produced by a heat pump as it is a cooler heat.  If you are likely to use the gas furnace all winter, then it might make more sense to pair it with an air conditioner, which often has a lower upfront cost.  However, if utility costs are a priority, it might be a better option to have a heat pump installed.

There are lots of questions to ask when considering a new air conditioner or heat pump.  Feel free to contact us anytime!

 


Solar Energy and HVAC- Is It Worth Considering?

Did you know that HVAC systems can be powered by solar energy?  This isn't terribly new, but the way solar can power your HVAC has evolved over the last few years.  Is it something that could be an option for you?  Is it worth it?

Indiana is known for its drastic temperature swings and four seasons.  For this reason, many people assume that Indiana doesn't get enough sunshine to really take advantage of solar power.  While the energy savings in Indiana may not be as significant as the energy savings in Florida, it is still something to consider.

While an HVAC installation is an investment, the federal tax credit and utility rebates are still  in effect for high efficient equipment and solar energy.  Through December 31, 2016, the federal tax credit for solar systems is 30% of entire installation cost with no maximum allowance.  If there is an excess tax credit, that excess is generally carried over to the following tax year.

In addition, solar usage has come a long way in just a few years!  When solar first came on the market in the HVAC industry, it was basically a single solar panel that attached to the outdoor unit.  It's a little different today.  Since we are an independent Lennox dealer, I'm going to discuss this in terms of Lennox equipment.  Some models of high efficient Lennox equipment are "solar ready."  This means that the new equipment can be installed and the solar panels can either be installed at the same time, at a later date, or never!  Up to 15 panels can be installed for each air conditioner or heat pump.  You can even start with just one or two panels and add more at a later time.  The solar energy generated is first used to power the air conditioner or heat pump.  If the HVAC system is not running, that energy is then used to power other appliances, lighting and electronics.

A communication module also sends data to a website so you can monitor your system at any time!  Data that is accessible on the website include energy production, system performance and environmental benefits.

So, is it something to consider?  We'd say so!  It's worth learning about to see if a solar investment makes sense for you and your home or business.  Contact us anytime for more information or with questions!