If it’s time to replace your old furnace, don’t assume that a new furnace is your only choice. This may be the go-to choice for most North American homes, but heat pumps are steadily growing in popularity. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump the best choice for you? Explore several compelling reasons to consider a heat pump, how it compares to 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 inherently 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 core difference impacts the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces have high AFUE ratings, which is certainly appealing. But this only illustrates the furnace’s ability to convert fuel to heat—it won’t account for the full energy footprint involved in the process of extracting, refining and transporting the fuel.
By comparison, a heat pump’s efficiency is measured by its HSPF. While it’s challenging to compare these numbers at first glance, understand that heat pumps often outperform furnaces.
Here’s why more and more homeowners are exploring 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 are very effective, but they max out at approximately 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 three times as efficient under proper operating conditions. This cost-effective performance leads to lower 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 heating oil, the production and distribution of which harms the planet. A heat pump operates without burning fuel, reducing your home’s environmental impact, especially if you also have solar panels to create green electricity from the sun.
One of the most innovative features of a heat pump is its versatility. It’s an effective heating system in the winter and doubles as your air conditioner during the summer. Thanks to a straightforward built-in switch, the heat pump reverses 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 with less noise than traditional furnaces since they don’t have to ignite fuel to generate heat. No combustion means reduced 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 goes where your furnace is currently located, and the outdoor unit replaces your air conditioner. It’s just that easy.
While heat pumps are innovative and energy efficient, they may not fit every situation. Heating efficiency is much more limited in severe cold, making heat pumps less ideal in regions with colder winters. That being said, advancements in cold-climate technology are making heat pumps more consistently effective in colder climates, so keep your eye out for models designed to continue working in these kinds of climates.
It’s also worth mentioning that the initial cost of buying a high-quality heat pump is often higher than a forced-air furnace. However, it also means you won’t have to purchase an air conditioner. If both systems are starting to show their age, 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 is missing the required ductwork, installing it increases 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 decrease 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, light bulbs, electronics and more.
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 ask for a free installation estimate.
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