Heat Pump vs. Air Conditioner. Heat pumps are machines that can pump heat in both directionsfrom the inside to the outside cooling and from the outside to the inside heating . Air conditioners, heat pumps, and refrigerators all use a similar process to transfer heat energy.. The largest advantage is an air conditioner will give you a cool, comfortable home in the summer with less upfront cost than a heat pump. If you already have an energy efficient way to heat your home, such as a high efficiency gas furnace, then perhaps a heat pump will not yield a high enough return on investment..Heat Pump vs. Air Conditioner Which One is Right for Cooling Your Home. Although heat is included in the name, you can use a heat pump for air conditioning. It works by moving heat instead of generating it furnaces burn fuel to generate heat which is why it is used as a dual function unit..