If you’d like to replace your old furnace, don’t assume that a new furnace is your only choice. This may be the preferred choice for most North American homeowners, but heat pumps are steadily growing in popularity. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump your ideal heating system? Explore several convincing reasons to try a heat pump, how it differs from a traditional furnace and whether a heat pump is the ideal choice for your home comfort needs.
The underlying technology between a heat pump and a traditional furnace is inherently different. Furnaces burn fuel—including natural gas, oil or propane to generate heat. On the other hand, heat pumps use electricity and refrigerant to move heat. This core difference influences the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces feature high annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings, which is understandably appealing. But this only relates to the furnace’s ability to convert fuel to heat—it doesn’t account for the whole energy footprint involved in extracting, refining and transporting said fuel.
In comparison, a heat pump’s efficiency is measured by its HSPF. While it’s difficult to compare these numbers at first glance, know that heat pumps frequently outperform furnaces.
Here’s why more and more homeowners are considering a heat pump for their year-round heating and cooling needs.
The operating cost is the first thing that comes to mind when contemplating a new home appliance. Furnaces can be highly effective, but they max out at around 98% efficiency. On the other hand, heat pumps are capable of generating three times the heat energy than the electrical energy consumed throughout the process. In other words, heat pumps can be 300% efficient under the best operating conditions. This budget-friendly performance leads to more manageable utility bills.
Your household’s environmental footprint could be more reduced with a heat pump. While electric furnaces exist, traditional gas-fired furnaces run on natural gas or oil, the production and distribution of which harms the planet. A heat pump operates without burning fuel, reducing your home’s environmental impact, particularly if you also have solar panels to create cleaner electricity from the sun.
One of the most notable features of a heat pump is its versatility. It’s an effective heating system in the winter and doubles as your air conditioner in the summer. Thanks to a simple built-in switch, the heat pump changes its operation and pulls out warm air from your home, much like a standard AC unit. This dual-purpose solution appeals to many homeowners.
Heat pumps operate with less noise than traditional furnaces as they don’t have to combust fuel to generate heat. No combustion means reduced noise, resulting in a calmer living space.
If your home has existing ductwork, transitioning to a heat pump is fast and easy. The air handler goes where your furnace is currently located, and the outdoor unit replaces your air conditioner. It’s as simple as that.
While heat pumps are impressive, they may not suit every situation. Heating efficiency drops in extreme cold, making heat pumps less suitable in regions with colder winters. At the same time, advancements in cold-climate technology are making heat pumps more efficient overall in the far north, so stay alert for models designed to continue working in these kinds of climates.
It’s also worth mentioning that the up-front cost of investing in a high-quality heat pump is generally higher than a forced-air furnace. However, it means you don’t have to buy an air conditioner. If both systems are getting older, you may actually save money up front by upgrading them with a heat pump. Plus, you’ll recoup any investment cost through lower energy bills over time.
If your home lacks the necessary ductwork, putting it in adds to your up-front costs. But furnaces need ductwork too, so this doesn’t necessarily prefer choosing a furnace over a heat pump. In fact, ductless heat pumps are available for older homes and additions where ductwork isn’t present.
Lastly, a heat pump’s efficiency benefits decrease if you live in an area with exceptionally high electricity costs. You can mitigate this by installing solar panels, which generate electricity from the sun to power your heat pump and many other electrical systems.
Still not sure if a heat pump is ideal for you? Consult Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, and our professionals can help you determine if a heat pump suits your heating and cooling needs. Then, whether you opt for a heat pump or a traditional furnace, we can set up your new system above and beyond your expectations. Contact us today to request a free installation estimate.
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