If you’d like to replace your old furnace, don’t assume that a new furnace is your only choice. This may be the preferred 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 persuasive reasons to consider a heat pump, how this equipment is distinct from a traditional furnace and whether a heat pump is the best choice for your home comfort needs.
The underlying technology between a heat pump and a traditional furnace is inherently different. Furnaces burn combustible substances such as natural gas, oil or propane to generate heat. On the other hand, heat pumps use electricity and refrigerant to move heat. This fundamental difference affects the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces feature high AFUE ratings, which is undoubtedly appealing. But an AFUE rating only measures the furnace’s ability to convert fuel to heat—it doesn’t account for the whole energy footprint involved in extracting, refining and transporting said fuel.
By comparison, a heat pump’s efficiency is measured by its HSPF. While it’s not easy to compare these numbers at first glance, know that heat pumps often perform better than 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 first thing that comes to mind when considering a new home appliance. Furnaces are very effective, but they max out at around 98% efficiency. On the other hand, heat pumps are capable of generating three times more heat energy than the electrical energy consumed during the process. In other words, heat pumps can be three times as efficient under proper 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 natural gas or oil, the production and distribution of which negatively impacts the planet. A heat pump operates without burning fuel, shrinking your home’s environmental impact, particularly if you also have solar panels to produce green electricity from the sun.
One of the most impressive features of a heat pump is its dual heating and cooling functionality. It’s an effective wintertime heater and doubles as your air conditioner in the summer. Thanks to a straightforward built-in switch, the heat pump switches its operation and pulls out warm air from your home, just like a standard AC unit. This two-in-one solution appeals to many homeowners.
Heat pumps run with less noise than traditional furnaces since they don’t have to burn fuel to generate heat. No combustion means less noise, resulting in a quieter living space.
If your home has existing 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 as simple as that.
While heat pumps are impressive, they may not fit every situation. Heating efficiency declines in extreme cold, making heat pumps less ideal in regions with long, cold winters. At the same time, advancements in cold-climate technology are making heat pumps more consistently effective in colder climates, so keep your eye out for models designed to work in such settings.
It’s also worth mentioning that the initial cost of investing in a high-quality heat pump is often higher than a conventional furnace. However, it means you don’t have to buy 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 is missing the necessary ductwork, installing it contributes to your up-front costs. But furnaces need ductwork too, so this doesn’t necessarily favor 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 start to fall off if you live in an area with exceptionally high electricity costs. You can counteract this by adding 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 right for you? Consult Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, and our Experts 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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