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 homeowners, but heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump the right fit for everyone? Explore several persuasive 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 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 understandably 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 the process of extracting, refining and transporting said fuel.
By comparison, a heat pump’s efficiency is measured by its HSPF. While it’s difficult to compare these numbers at first glance, know that heat pumps typically 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 the number one priority when contemplating 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 generating three times the heat energy than the electrical energy consumed during the process. In other words, heat pumps can be 300% efficient under the best operating conditions. This cost-effective performance leads to more manageable utility bills.
Your household’s environmental footprint could be more modest with a heat pump. While electric furnaces can be found, traditional gas-fired furnaces run on combustible natural gas or heating oil, the production and distribution of which harms the planet. A heat pump operates without burning fuel, shrinking your home’s environmental impact, particularly if you also have solar panels to create environmentally friendly electricity from the sun.
One of the most impressive features of a heat pump is its versatility. It’s an effective wintertime heater and doubles as your air conditioner for the summer. Thanks to a simple built-in switch, the heat pump changes its operation and extracts warm air from your home, just like a standard AC unit. This two-in-one solution appeals to many homeowners.
Heat pumps run less noisily than traditional furnaces as they don’t have to ignite 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 fast and easy. 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 declines in extreme cold, making heat pumps less ideal in regions with long, cold winters. That being said, advancements in cold-climate technology are making heat pumps more efficient overall in colder climates, so keep your eye out for models designed to work in such settings.
It’s also worth pointing out that the up-front cost of purchasing a high-quality heat pump is generally higher than a forced-air 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 swapping them with a heat pump. Plus, you’ll recover any investment cost through lower energy bills over time.
If your home lacks the necessary ductwork, adding it adds to your up-front costs. But furnaces need ductwork too, so this doesn’t necessarily favor choosing a furnace over a heat pump. In fact, ductless heat pumps are available for older homes and additions where ductwork isn’t present.
Finally, a heat pump’s efficiency benefits decrease if you live in an area with higher than average 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 decide 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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