The best AC is actually a heat pump

A heat pump is also the best way to cool your home

Every summer, millions of Americans will start to think about the age and condition of their AC units. If it feels like time to replace a window air conditioner, or if you are looking to upgrade your home with central air, please don’t!

Instead, upgrade to an energy-efficient heat pump, which can both cool and heat your home. It’s obvious that heat pumps provide heat — it’s right in the name — but many people don’t realize that they are also excellent air conditioners. The fact that they save you money on your energy bills is just icing on the cake.

Cooling and heating for the price of one

A heat pump is the ultimate two-for-one deal: an air conditioner and a heating system in a single, elegant appliance. In the summer, a heat pump works exactly like a traditional air conditioner, cooling your home by moving the heat from the inside to the outside. In the winter, heat pumps kick into reverse, pumping heat in from the outside air. (Don’t worry, there’s more than enough heat energy in outdoor air, even on the coldest days of winter.)

Heat pumps lower your energy bills

The average American homeowner will save hundreds of dollars each year by switching to a heat pump. How? Because a heat pump uses energy to move heat, rather than create it, which is much more efficient. If your home currently uses fuel oil, propane, or electric resistance heat (i.e. baseboards or an electric furnace), your savings may be closer to $1,000 a year.

Heat pumps provide better comfort

Many heat pumps come with variable-speed or dual-speed motors. These can make the heating and cooling process more gradual (and energy-efficient) than a traditional system. They don’t simply have “on” and “off” modes, so they won’t blast you with air or make a noise throughout the house when they kick on. You’ll have a more consistent temperature from room to room.

Heat pumps reduce your home’s carbon footprint

By installing a heat pump instead of an AC this summer, you can reduce your heating-related fossil fuel use by 40 percent or more. Heating and cooling our homes accounts for more than 10 percent of U.S. carbon emissions. Because heat pumps are 2 to 3 times more efficient than most fossil-fuel heating systems, upgrading to a heat pump is an easy way to make a big difference in the fight against climate change.

Heat pumps are more affordable than ever

Thanks to the incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act, purchasing and installing a heat pump is easier than it’s ever been. Most households qualify for a 30 percent tax credit for up to $2,000 to buy and install a heat pump.

Light purple image with dark purple banner reading Hot and Cool Facts at the top, small image of heat pump  in upper left corner. Quote about heat pumps below reads: Later this year, states will start to roll out the IRA rebate programs for low- and moderate-income households. Bolded purple texts reads: which will cover up to $14,000 for all electrification projects including up to $8,000 for heat pumps.

If you’d like to explore how the incentives and rebates affect you, try our IRA savings calculator.

Attention, renters! Heat pumps aren’t just for homeowners

These days, more and more companies are producing portable and window-unit heat pumps. They’re easy to install and perfect for heating and cooling small spaces. Plus, you can pack them up if you decide to move. (Pro tip: These units are often marketed as “air conditioners with heat.”)

Heat pumps are the best way to heat and cool your home, lower your electric bill, and get gas out of your home. Electrify your home with Rewiring America's free heat pump guide. Check it out.

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Rewiring America is the leading electrification nonprofit working to electrify our homes, businesses, and communities.

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