What’s the difference between a heat pump system and an air conditioning system and which one is right for you? Both of these HVAC systems have similarities and vast differences. For starters both systems use compressed refrigerant to gather heat from inside your home as air passes over the coil in the air handler and transfers it out side. Heat pumps and air conditioners essentially move heat from inside your home to an outdoor location, cooling the inside. From a cooling perspective heat pumps and air conditioners are essentially the same when operating in cooling mode, with no significant difference in operation, efficiency, or energy costs.