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 default choice for most North American homes, but heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump your ideal heating system? Explore several convincing reasons to consider 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 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 core difference impacts the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces feature high AFUE ratings, which is certainly appealing. But this only illustrates the furnace’s ability to convert fuel to heat—it doesn’t account for the full energy footprint involved in extracting, refining and transporting said fuel.
By 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 perform better 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 one of the first things homeowners worry about when considering a new home appliance. Furnaces can be quite effective, but they max out at approximately 98% efficiency. On the other hand, heat pumps are capable of moving 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 lower 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 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 green electricity from the sun.
One of the most impressive features of a heat pump is its flexibility. It’s an effective heating system in the winter and doubles as your air conditioner in the summer. Thanks to a straightforward built-in switch, the heat pump changes its operation and pulls out warm air from your home, similar to a standard AC unit. This dual-purpose solution appeals to many homeowners.
Heat pumps run with less noise than traditional furnaces since they don’t have to ignite fuel to generate heat. No combustion means less noise, resulting in a more peaceful living space.
If your home has existing 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 as simple as that.
While heat pumps are impressive, they may not be suitable for every situation. Heating efficiency declines in extreme cold, making heat pumps less suitable in regions with harsh winters. That being said, advancements in cold-climate technology are making heat pumps more viable in colder climates, so keep your eye out for models designed to work in such settings.
It’s also worth mentioning that the up-front cost of purchasing a high-quality heat pump is generally higher than a traditional furnace. However, it means you don’t have to purchase an air conditioner. If both systems are starting to show their age, 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 is missing the required 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 diminish if you live in an area with exceptionally high electricity costs. You can counteract 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 right 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 ask for a free installation estimate.
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