Heating vs. Cooling: Which Takes More Energy?

It’s a question as old as time: is it my air conditioner, or my heating system that uses more energy and costs me more money? Ok, not really. But still, it’s a question worth asking, and the answer isn’t all that straightforward: heating a space can consume more energy than cooling a space, sometimes, depending on how you heat your home, and a bunch of other factors. So now that we’ve gotten that part out of the way, let’s delve into the grey area of this question and see if we can’t figure something out! 

Does the Type of System I Have Matter?

In short, yes, the type of heating or cooling system that you have affects how much energy you’re going to be using to heat/cool a space. Here’s a quick breakdown of energy efficiency in different systems, listed from most efficient to least efficient: 


Easy enough, just install the most efficient type of system for each and watch the savings roll in, right? Once again, it’s not so simple. What makes practical sense for you cost-wise isn’t always going to be tied to your energy bill. For example: if you have a gas furnace, are you going to want to front the installation cost associated with installing a heat-pump? You might save money in the long-run, but that’s only if you end up living in your current home for years. Even then, a lump sum up front can be very unappealing when you know you can just keep using the system that you have, and dish-out a predictable amount of money each month. If it works for you, a new and more efficient system is a great idea, but that might not be something you want to do. 

What Other Factors Come Into Play? 

While the type of heating and cooling system that you have is definitely an important piece, there are also a few other factors that come into play when figuring out energy efficiency. 

  • Temperature- Temperature plays an important role in how efficiently a space can be heated or cooled, both inside and out. If you are dealing with extreme outdoor temperatures- not uncommon in the capital region- more energy will be needed to actually heat or cool your space to a comfortable indoor temperature. If you tend to like things a little cooler or a little more toasty in your home, this will also impact energy use, especially if it’s very hot or cold outside.
  • Air Escape– If there are parts of your home that with holes or cracks, these can act as escape points for hot and cold air, which can make heating and cooling spaces more energy intensive. This can also go for the insulation quality of your home; a well-insulated space will be able to retain distributed hot or cold air better than a space that isn’t as well insulated.
  • Proper Air Ducts- If you have a duct system that distributes cool and warm air throughout your home, it can be easy to overlook their status when trying to calculate the energy efficiency. Don’t make this mistake! Having ducts that are both clean and functioning properly- no holes or leaks- is an important part of having energy efficient systems. If you think you might need a duct cleaning or repair, call Appolo Heating and we’ll have your duct system running smoothly in no time!
  • Thermostat- Keeping careful track of how often you’re tweaking your thermostat based on when you’re actually home can also play a big role in how efficiently you’re utilizing your heating and cooling systems. You may want to consider a programmable or smart thermostat to cut out the potential for human error. To learn more about these types of thermostats, check out our blog on summertime electric bill savings

So, Which One Actually Takes Up More Energy? 

Taking all of these factors into consideration the verdict is…it depends. While that might not be the most satisfying answer, there are so many variables involved that it’s hard to definitively say that one consumes more energy than the other. What we can tell you is that heating costs are annually higher in the northeastern United States, likely because you actually need to use your heat more often and for longer periods of time in this region than you do in somewhere like Florida–where most energy costs are associated with cooling, not heating. 

So what can you do to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your heating or cooling system, and not just wasting energy? Our ongoing maintenance program is a great place to start! Making sure you’re getting regular inspections and tune-ups will give you the peace of mind knowing that your systems are in tip-top shape, and there’s a good chance your monthly energy bill will reflect the effort put into maintaining your system. 


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