Is an Air Conditioner with Heat the Best Option?

We talk to people everyday from all across the United States. We talk to folks who need furnaces, boilers, geothermal heat pumps, package air conditioners, splits systems, and so on. And we talk to a lot of people who insist they just need an air conditioner with heat. Wherever they live (usually Florida), they don't need a furnace or a boiler or anything like that. Just an air conditioner with heat.

But are they right?

What is an Air Conditioner with Heat?

When people ask for an air conditioner with heat what they mean is that they want an air conditioner, package unit or split system, that comes with an auxiliary heat kit. Sometimes called a heat strip, an auxiliary heat kit is an accessory for certain HVAC systems. To make a long story short, an auxiliary heat kit in an air conditioner can be activated to provide heating during cold weather conditions.

All in all, heat strips are very handy little devices. Even if you have a traditional furnace or boiler, a heat strip is a great addition. If your dedicated heating system ever goes out, an auxiliary heat kit will ensure you don't freeze while you're waiting for the repairman. Many people who live in hot climates and who don't need much heat in winter even use a heat strip for all their cold weather heating needs.

Which we don't actually recommend. You might think all you need is an air conditioner with heat, and you might not be wrong. But just because it can get you through winter doesn't mean you aren't overpaying for all that electric warmth.

It's true that an electric heat kit is 100% efficient. Which is good. It's also true that in the same cold weather conditions an electric heat pump can be 150% to 300% efficient. Every dollar you spend on that heat kit would be worth $1.50 or more in an energy efficient heat pump!

Yes, heat pumps are more expensive than air conditioners, but not that much more expensive. You might pay a few hundred bucks up front to save a lot more over the life of the unit.

Questions or Comments?

Do you have questions or comments about the benefits or drawbacks of an air conditioner with heat, a heat kit, heat pump, or other product? Let us know here, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

 

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