Cooling and Heating Solutions Comparison: AC Units VS Heat Pump VS Dual Fuel Packaged System VS Furnace

If designing a new home or planning for new HVAC equipment, it’s important to consider the energy efficiency of the unit you are buying. Another factor to consider is the cost of operation. HVAC systems are necessary equipment for states that experience high temperatures and cold winters. You have to make sure you buy equipment that is effective in heating and cooling. In this post, we will discuss Heat Pump VS AC VS dual fuel heat pump.

Differences Between a Heat pump, Central AC, and Packaged (Dual Fuel) Heat Pump

heat pump VS heat pump plus ac units

The heat pump and air conditioner are very similar in design. However, the Air conditioner only provides cooling while the heat pump provides both heating and cooling. These two systems are very similar with the only main difference being that the heat pump can be reversed. The two systems use the indoor and outdoor coils for refrigerant transfer. The refrigerant becomes hot when compressed while it becomes cold when moving the expansion coils. The Air conditioning units restrict this movement limiting the expansion of the coils that leads to cooling. On the other hand, the heat pump allows the whole process to reverse allowing the indoor coils to be either compressed for heating or expanded for cooling.

The heat is reversed using a reversing valve that allows the refrigerant to be reversed. Simply put the inside unit exchanges with the outside unit. In simple terms, the air conditioner absorbs heat from the air expelling it in the exhaust. This results in a cool air circulating the house. The heat pump can cool and heat making it ideal for year-round use. The heat pump will pull heat from outside air when heating your house and when reversed it pull heat out of the house.

heat pump vs ac unit longevity

A dual heat pump, on the other hand, is another heating appliance that combines both the electric heat pump and the gas furnace. A dual heat pump is designed and installed to work with an air furnace heating system. The air furnace is propelled by propane or natural gas. The dual heat pumps are effective in very cold regions where temperatures go beyond the freezing point. The heat pump is usually used most of the time but when the temperatures go below the freezing point, the gas furnace is then used to provide more heat. These two, when combined, becomes very effective in warming the house. It is worth noting that heat pumps never create heat but move heat from outside. When temperatures fall beyond zero degrees Celsius, heat pumps must then depend on auxiliary heat provided by the gas furnace.

Homeowners must make several considerations when choosing the right HVAC system for the homes. As seen from above, the climate is a major deciding factor when selecting the right HVAC. In places where temperatures go below 40F, then a heat pump is not the best choice. A dual heat pump or air conditioner+gas furnace are recommended.

#1 Heat Pump

heat pump savings compared to other heating and cooling units


  • The fact that a heat pump can heat and cool all year long makes it very versatile. They provide an economical source of heat. The air they get is free lowering the energy costs.
  • Save indoor space giving you more room.
  • The heating source is environmentally friendly. Their heating source does not use the dangerous burning fuel.


  • Initial installation cost is high

Suggested Climate: Summer+Mild winter

#2 Air Conditioners


  • The air conditioners are well known to do an excellent cooling job during the summer with very minimal upfront costs than heat pumps. The difference here comes in the costs of installing the units. You will spend less to install an air conditioner than a heat pump.
  • Air conditioners are also very ideal if you lack enough space. They are very compact and can fit in tight places.

Suggested Climate: NO Cold Winter

#3 Dual (Packaged) Heat Pump


Versatile offering the benefits of both gas furnace and electrical system

Cost effective with the initial cost the only hindrance. Gas is very cheap in US than electricity making the dual heat pump economical.

Efficient combining the advantages of the heat pump and gas furnace.

Suggested Climate:Summer+Wild winter

#4 Air Conditioners+Furnace

Suggested Climate:Summer+Wild winter

Why Climate Is A Major Deciding Factor

However, as discussed earlier, the choice of the unit bought will come down to the climate of the place. If you live in a place that experiences summer and winter conditions, then the best choice is the heat pump. The heat pump will serve both seasons well without the extra cost of installing other HVAC. However, if the winter temperatures go beyond zero degrees Celsius, then you might have to go a dual heat pump or AC+Furnace.

HVAC contractors can help you decide the right unit for your home. Air conditioners have been known to be very versatile, but heat pumps are becoming very popular with their double work of heating and cooling. They are very effective in extreme climates but when temperatures go beyond zero, the a dual heat pump is recommended.

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