Tri County Air Conditioning wants to make sure that those in the Manatee, Charlotte, and Sarasota Counties know the difference between air conditioners and heat pumps! Though the two units might look similar, they have very different operating methods. An air conditioner can be used for both cooling and heating all different sizes of rooms. Even though it is multi-functional, it’s used mainly to maintain cool room temperatures during the hot months, which we are all too familiar with here in Southwest Florida.  A heat pump is also a unit that can be used for both heating and cooling rooms, its main perk over an air conditioner being its efficiency while in heat mode.


Air Conditioners

An air conditioner is able to maintain cool temperatures due to its key component, the evaporator coil. This part of the air conditioner is located inside the air handler. The outside unit sucks in air, which is then filtered over the evaporator coil, thus cooling the air being pulled into the room to the user’s desired temperature. In the winter months, the air conditioner blows air over a heating component (similar to the coils you would see in a toaster oven – except larger) to heat the air to the desired temperature. As you can imagine, this method of heating is not very efficient.

Heat Pumps

A heat pump functions using an absorption method. The heat pump, when turned to ‘heat’, sucks all of the cool air out of the room and blows that cold air out of the vent in the outside unit. Similarly, when cooling a room, the heat pump extracts all of the warm air from said room and expels it out of the vent. It is important to note that the heat pump is more energy efficient than the air conditioner, especially when being used to both heat and cool.

For our clients who are year-round residents, we would encourage you to invest in a heat pump. Even though the up-front cost of a heat pump is more than that of an air conditioner, you will save more money on your electric bills throughout the year. On the other hand, if you are a seasonal resident and are looking to save money on up-front cost (while not minding the higher electric bills), an air conditioner might be the right choice for you.


If you have any questions about air conditioners or heat pumps, please feel free to leave a comment below or click the button below!