If you’d like to replace your old furnace, don’t move forward thinking a new furnace is your only choice. This may be the go-to choice for most North American households, but heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump the right fit for everyone? Explore several compelling reasons to consider a heat pump, how it is distinct from a traditional furnace and whether a heat pump is the best choice for your home comfort needs.
The core design between a heat pump and a traditional furnace is essentially different. Furnaces burn combustible materials like natural gas, oil or propane to generate heat. On the other hand, heat pumps use electricity and refrigerant to move heat. This fundamental difference influences the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces feature high annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings, which is undoubtedly appealing. But an AFUE rating only illustrates the furnace’s ability to convert fuel to heat—it won’t account for the whole energy footprint involved in the extraction, refining and transportation of said fuel.
In comparison, a heat pump’s efficiency is measured by its heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). While it’s difficult to compare these numbers at first glance, know that heat pumps typically perform better than furnaces.
Here’s why more and more homeowners are looking into a heat pump for their year-round heating and cooling needs.
The operating cost is the number one priority when considering a new home appliance. Furnaces can be highly efficient, but they max out at about 98% efficiency. On the other hand, heat pumps are capable of generating three times more heat energy than the electrical energy consumed throughout the process. In other words, heat pumps can be 300% efficient under proper operating conditions. This cost-effective 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 has a detrimental effect on the planet. A heat pump operates without burning fuel, reducing your home’s environmental impact, especially if you also have solar panels to produce environmentally friendly electricity from the sun.
One of the most innovative features of a heat pump is its flexibility. It’s an effective heating system in the winter and doubles as your air conditioner during the summer. Thanks to a simple built-in switch, the heat pump reverses its operation and pulls out warm air from your home, similar to a standard AC unit. This two-in-one solution appeals to many homeowners.
Heat pumps operate more quietly than traditional furnaces since they don’t have to ignite fuel to generate heat. No combustion means less noise, resulting in a calmer living space.
If your home is already equipped with ductwork, transitioning to a heat pump is quick and straightforward. The air handler will end up where your furnace is currently located, and the outdoor unit replaces your air conditioner. It’s .
While heat pumps are impressive, they may not suit every situation. Heating efficiency is much more limited in extreme cold, making heat pumps less effective 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 work in such settings.
It’s also worth pointing out that the up-front cost of buying a high-quality heat pump is generally higher than a forced-air furnace. However, it also means you won’t have to purchase an air conditioner. If both systems are noticeably less efficient, you may actually save money up front by replacing them with a heat pump. Plus, you’ll gain back any investment cost through lower energy bills over time.
If your home lacks the necessary ductwork, adding it increases your up-front costs. But furnaces need ductwork too, so this doesn’t necessarily prefer selecting 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 start to fall off if you live in an area with exceptionally high electricity costs. You can offset this by adding solar panels, which generate electricity from the sun to power your heat pump, light bulbs, electronics and more.
Still not sure if a heat pump is right for you? Consult Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, and our Experts can help you decide if a heat pump suits your heating and cooling needs. Then, whether you opt for a heat pump or a traditional furnace, we can install your new system above and beyond your expectations. Contact us today to seek a free installation estimate.
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