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Air Source Heat Pumps vs Air Conditioning

Air Source Heat Pumps vs Air Conditioning

If you're looking to upgrade your home's heating and cooling, which option is better: heat pumps or air conditioning? 

With rising temperatures, you’ll want to have a reliable and efficient cooling system in place. But when it comes to choosing between two, it can be a tough decision to make.

What are heat pumps?

Air source heat pump systems (ASHPs) use the natural warmth of your home’s interior air to warm/ cool your house. They can provide comfortable temperatures all year round without relying solely on fuel-based heating and cooling systems.

In winter, warm air from inside your home is extracted by the heat pump and released outside. In summer, hot air is drawn inside your house and released back outside after it has been cooled down.

What is air conditioning?

Air conditioning (AC) is one of the most popular ways to cool your home and buildings. It works by using a refrigerant to absorb heat from inside and transferring it outside. It takes in the warm air from the inside, cools it down, and then releases it back into the room.

Such systems are invaluable for providing relief in hot climates and during summer months. Just like a heat pump, the system typically comes with a thermostat. This allows you to control the temperature of your home and set it to the desired level.

The differences

Both ASHP and AC systems are designed to provide cool air and maintain a comfortable indoor temperature during hot summer months.

However, they differ in terms of functionality, efficiency, and cost. Understanding the differences between the two can help you make an informed decision about your cooling needs.


ASHPs offer superior comfort levels over traditional heating and cooling systems. Thanks to their variable or dual-speed motors, they provide a more gradual heating and cooling process than more conventional systems.

Air conditioning systems, on the other hand, provide a more consistent cooling experience, but don't offer any temperature regulation. As well as this, the majority of systems are designed for cooling.


The installation process for both systems generally involves the same steps. First, you will need to decide on the location for your unit (indoors or outdoors), and then have a professional install it.

Installing a new heating and cooling system in an older home can be tricky, particularly when there is no ductwork in place.

Fortunately, modern technology has made installing a heat pump easier and more flexible than ever before. Ductless mini-splits are becoming an increasingly popular choice among homeowners who lack conventional ductwork.


Air source heating is often more efficient than AC systems. This is because ASHPs transfer energy from one place to another, rather than actually generating it.

They can cool a home with less energy consumption and cost. Heat pumps also have higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings, which show their energy efficiency.


The cost of a heat pump system will depend on the size and type you choose. AC systems tend to have lower upfront costs than ASHPs. However, upfront costs can be cancelled out by the energy-saving benefits of a heat pump over time.

Air conditioning can also come with additional costs for maintenance and repairs. Whereas heat pump systems are relatively low maintenance.

Another factor that can affect cost is the complexity of installation. Installing a HP in an older home without ductwork may require additional components to complete the job, such as a mini-split system.


The lifespan of both ASHPs and AC systems can vary drastically. This depends on the quality and type of unit, as well as the frequency of maintenance.

Of course, high-quality units tend to have a longer lifespan. ASHPs typically have a lifespan of around 15-25 years, while AC usually lasts about 10-15 years.

At Unitherm, we pride ourselves in providing efficient energy solutions for Devon & the South West. If you’re looking for air source heating, contact us today to find out more about our products and services.

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