If your old system is letting you down, now is the time to look at some options. It’s also the time to ask the big question, “Should your new system be furnace or heat-pump driven?”
What the heck is the difference between a heat pump and a furnace anyway? We’re happy to explain. A furnace uses fuel to generate its own source of heat, and then it circulates the heat throughout your home. There are several types of furnaces, including gas, oil and electric, all of which function the same. A heat pump is basically an air conditioner with a reversing valve, allowing it to run in reverse, so, it heats rather than cools your home. So, heat pumps don’t generate heat from a fuel source. Instead, they rely on electricity and refrigerant to transfer heat from outdoor air to the inside.
If you’re uncertain whether you should purchase a furnace or heat pump, here are three factors to consider in making your decision.
Local climate. Heat pumps rely on outdoor air to function, meaning they work best where the winters are mild, around 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Even in the ideal climate, a heat pump can be negatively impacted by the presence of frost. In comparison, a furnace will function in both mild and colder climates – with no concern about frost.
Costs. When it comes to the cost of equipment and installation, both the heat pump system and installation can cost up to four times as much as a furnace. For operating costs, Energy.gov says heat pumps can reduce electricity use by about half compared to furnaces. But if you happen to encounter a cold snap with temperatures below 30 degrees, all efficiencies of the heat pump are lost. In that scenario, a heat pump can keep your home warm enough to keep your pipes from freezing but it will have to work much harder than a furnace to heat the home.
Safety. Both furnaces and heat pumps are safe to use when they’re installed and maintained correctly. Furnaces do come with CO2 and fume concerns should the system fail. And if you’re using a furnace that requires gas or propane, there are risks of explosion. Because heat pumps run on electricity, there are no CO2 risks. They can, however, leak refrigerant when idle.
Ask one of our experts at Rescue Your Air to help you choose your new heating system or make an appointment to have one of our professionals inspect your existing system to determine if you’re ready for the big step.
No matter which type of heating system is best for your home, regular maintenance is key to keeping you warm in the winter.