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A/C Unit or Heat Pump: Which Is More Efficient?

Living in the Midwest can leave a lot of homeowners contemplating whether they really need an air conditioner or could just get by with a heat pump. Each one of these systems offers its advantages and drawbacks. There are a few characteristics to consider when it comes to deciding which type of unit best fits your house. It’s important to understand how each unit operates and how these systems could directly affect you and your family.

A/C Units vs. Heat Pumps

Most people view A/C units as large systems that pump cold air into your home. While this isn’t completely wrong, a better concept for understanding A/C units is called heat displacement. Rather than cooling your home, these complex systems move hot air out of your home. This takes place through a cycle in which the warm air in your home goes through your unit. After the refrigerant in your A/C system is applied, the air – now much cooler – is pumped back into your home. So, how does a heat pump work? Heat pumps use the same concept as regular A/C units, they’re just not quite as efficient when it comes to extreme temperatures.

Now that you have a better understanding of how these systems operate, let’s explore which would be a better option for your household. A few factors to consider when it comes to A/C units vs. heat pumps are your temperature preferences, the amount of money you’re willing to pay, and the ideal lifespan of your unit.

Temperature Preferences

We all have our indoor temperature preferences. Some of us like to sleep in an icebox while others enjoy a nice moderate breeze; these preferences become more important as seasons change. If you’re the type of person who needs your house to be very cold in the summer and very warm in the winter, you’ll probably want to install a standard A/C unit as opposed to a heat pump. While a heat pump can keep your home warm and cool, it’s not going to survive operating at extreme levels like an A/C unit would.


When it comes down to price, the cheapest option for a homeowner is going to be a heat pump. Some of the more standard models of heat pumps are in the $3,000 to $6,000 range. From there, the next best option will be a standard A/C unit. These systems typically cost around the same but usually involve more work for installation, which therefore drives the cost. While you may save a little more money on the purchase of a heat pump, you won’t save so much money that it’s an obvious choice. There are many different levels of A/C units and heat pumps, with each offering a different level of efficiency. The more you’re willing to spend, the more you’ll get out of your unit.


Typically, A/C units last longer than heat pumps. This is mainly due to the HVAC industry’s demand for A/C parts and maintenance. With more technicians working and installing A/C systems, these units are built to last for 10-20 years in some cases. One factor that leads to heat pumps not having as long of a lifespan is how often they’re used. In most households, heat pumps are working around the clock all year long. One way a lot of owners try to combat this variable is by hiring regular maintenance check-ups for their heat pumps.

Find Your Best Solution

Both A/C units and heat pumps have benefits and drawbacks. Each household operates differently. For some, inside temperatures are the top priority. Meanwhile, other families might be hoping to save costs on monthly energy bills. If you’re still unsure about which unit works best for you, feel free to contact Meyer’s today. Our team of NATE-certified technicians will be able to provide guidance on which system best suits your household’s needs.