If you’d like to replace your old furnace, don’t presume that another furnace is the only option. This may be the preferred choice for most North American households, 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 choose a heat pump, how this equipment differs from a traditional furnace and whether a heat pump is the most efficient choice for your home comfort needs.
The underlying technology between a heat pump and a traditional furnace is essentially 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 key difference influences the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces boast high AFUE ratings, which is undoubtedly appealing. But this only measures the furnace’s ability to convert fuel to heat—it doesn’t account for the whole energy footprint involved in the process of extracting, refining and transporting the 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, understand that heat pumps frequently offer stronger performance than 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 quite efficient, but they max out at approximately 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 the best operating conditions. This cost-efficient performance leads to more manageable utility bills.
Your household’s environmental footprint could be much smaller with a heat pump. While electric furnaces are available, traditional gas-fired furnaces run on natural gas or heating oil, the production and distribution of which negatively impacts the planet. A heat pump operates without burning fuel, reducing your home’s environmental impact, particularly if you also have solar panels to create environmentally friendly electricity from the sun.
One of the most striking features of a heat pump is its dual heating and cooling functionality. It’s an effective wintertime heater and doubles as your air conditioner for the summer. Thanks to a straightforward built-in switch, the heat pump changes its operation and draws out warm air from your home, just like a standard AC unit. This two-in-one solution is highly desireable to many homeowners.
Heat pumps run less noisily than traditional furnaces because they don’t have to combust fuel to generate heat. No combustion means reduced noise, resulting in a quieter living space.
If your home already has ductwork, transitioning to a heat pump is a fast, easy process. The air handler goes where your furnace is currently located, and the outdoor unit replaces your air conditioner. It’s .
While heat pumps are innovative and energy efficient, they may not suit every situation. Heating efficiency declines in severe 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 colder climates, so be on the lookout for models designed to continue working in these kinds of climates.
It’s also worth pointing out that the initial cost of buying a high-quality heat pump is frequently higher than a conventional furnace. However, it also means you won’t have to purchase an air conditioner. If both systems are getting older, you may actually save money up front by replacing them with a heat pump. Plus, you’ll recoup any investment cost through lower energy bills over time.
If your home doesn’t already have the required ductwork, putting it in adds to your up-front costs. But furnaces need ductwork too, so this doesn’t necessarily lean toward 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 start to fall off 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 installers can help you figure out if a heat pump matches 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 request a free installation estimate.
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