Air Source vs. Ground Source Heat Pumps

Air Source vs. Ground Source Heat Pumps
With energy costs constantly on the rise, you may be hoping to make your home more energy efficient. Since heating and cooling account for about half of your utility bill, this is a great place to save.

If you’re building a new home or preparing to replace your outdated furnace and air conditioner, consider installing a heat pump. But first, learn about air source vs. ground source heat pumps to help you determine which one is best for your home.

What is a Heat Pump?

Heat pumps provide incredibly efficient heating and cooling for homes in moderate climates. Just like an air conditioner, a heat pump absorbs and transfers heat out of your home. The biggest difference is that a heat pump can also operate in reverse to heat your home in the winter.

Comparing Air Source vs. Ground Source Heat Pumps

There are two primary types of residential heat pumps: air source and ground source. These systems transfer heat to and from your home and the outside air or the ground. Both air and ground source heat pumps could be a good option for heating and cooling your home. Deciding between the two comes down to these factors:


Trading out your air conditioner and furnace for an air source heat pump could be a smart, energy-saving choice, especially if you have moderate heating and cooling requirements or if electricity is your only fuel source. Even if you live in a colder climate, an air source heat pump is still viable if you also install electric resistance auxiliary heating coils to use during cold snaps. Compared to electric furnaces, air source heat pumps can reduce heating costs by about 50 percent.

Ground source heat pumps are even more efficient. Also known as geothermal heating, ground source heat pumps utilize the relatively consistent temperature of the earth to heat and cool your home. They reduce heating and air conditioning costs by 30 to 60 percent and can be used in more extreme climates without needing a backup heat source.

Installation Requirements

Installing an air source heat pump is as easy as hooking up an air conditioner. Your home doesn’t need to meet special requirements to qualify for a heat pump.

Ground source heat pumps are a different story. They require excavation of land around your home and may only be suitable if you have a large enough lot and quality subsoil. The landscape will also need to be redone once the installation is complete.


Expect the cost to purchase and install a new air source heat pump to be about the same as an air conditioner. Remember to also consider the cost of a backup heat source, if needed.

Because of the complicated installation requirements, ground source heat pumps are three to six times more expensive to install. However, because of their increased efficiency, the additional costs are recouped as energy savings after just five to 10 years. With a system life of 25 years for indoor components and 50+ years for the underground loop, the lifetime savings are substantial.

Learn More About Air and Ground Source Heat Pumps from Aire Serv®

Is it time to decide between an air source vs. ground source heat pump? Let Aire Serv help. Our heating and cooling experts will conduct a cost comparison to determine whether the extra efficiency of a ground source heat pump is worth the higher upfront cost and installation requirements. Whether you opt for an air or ground source heat pump, we can install and service your equipment for years to come.

Contact us today to learn more!