Which Is Better–A Heat Pump Or Central Air Conditioning?

If you've been shopping for a new cooling system, you've probably heard of the relatively new heat pump systems. Unlike central air systems, heat pumps work by transferring the cool air from under the ground outside your home to your living spaces. Heat pumps offer several advantages, but they aren't necessarily the right choice for every homeowner.

Advantages to investing in a heat pump

1. Saving money on your electric bill. Because a heat pump transfers conditioned air rather than creating it, you can save a significant amount on your electric bill by switching to a heat pump. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a household can save up to 40 percent on their electric bill by using a heat pump for both cooling and heating their home.

2. You only need one system, not two. A heat pump works to both cool and heat your home. If you'll have to replace your furnace soon, a heat pump can save you money because you only have to purchase one system.

3. Tax credits. Depending on the type of heat pump you purchase, you could quality for a federal tax credit equal to up to 30 percent of the price of the appliance and the installation. This credit is valid for both primary and secondary residences, on new homes and existing homes. The program expires on December 31, 2016. A good HVAC contractor can help you select a heat pump that will qualify for the tax credit.

4. A more even temperature. With a heat pump, you don't have the hot and cold spots you can have with a traditional air conditioning system. All of your rooms stay evenly cooled.

5. Better at dehumidifying. Heat pumps are also better at dehumidifying your home. If you live in a humid climate, this could be a deciding factor.

Advantages of central air over a heat pump

1. Less expensive. A central air conditioning system is generally less expensive than a heat pump. If you already have a relatively-new, high-efficiency furnace and therefore don't need the heat pump for heating your home, central air may be the better choice.

2. Less bulky. Central air compressors are more compact than a heat pump, a consideration if space is an issue.

There's no one best air cooling system for every household. Before you invest in a cooling system, it's wise to weigh the advantages of each type of system to see which is a better fit for your budget and your family's lifestyle.