If it’s time to replace your old furnace, don’t move forward thinking a new furnace is your only choice. This may be the preferred choice for most North American homeowners, but heat pumps are steadily growing in popularity. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump the right fit for everyone? Explore several compelling reasons to try 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 core design 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 key difference impacts the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces feature high AFUE ratings, which is certainly appealing. But this only measures 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 said fuel.
In comparison, a heat pump’s efficiency is measured by its heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). While it’s challenging to compare these numbers at first glance, understand that heat pumps often 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 the number one priority when considering a new home appliance. Furnaces are very efficient, but they max out at around 98% efficiency. On the other hand, heat pumps are capable of moving three times the heat energy than the electrical energy consumed in the process. In other words, heat pumps can be 300% efficient under proper operating conditions. This budget-friendly performance leads to lower utility bills.
Your household’s environmental footprint could be more reduced with a heat pump. While electric furnaces can be found, 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, shrinking your home’s environmental impact, especially 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 heating system in the winter and doubles as your air conditioner for the summer. Thanks to a straightforward built-in switch, the heat pump changes its operation and extracts warm air from your home, similar to a standard AC unit. This two-in-one solution is highly desireable to many homeowners.
Heat pumps operate less noisily than traditional furnaces as they don’t have to burn fuel to generate heat. No combustion means less noise, resulting in a more peaceful 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 .
While heat pumps are impressive, they may not be suitable for every situation. Heating efficiency drops in severe cold, making heat pumps less ideal in regions with harsh winters. That being said, advancements in cold-climate technology are making heat pumps more efficient overall in the far north, so keep your eye out for models designed to work in such settings.
It’s also worth mentioning that the up-front cost of buying a high-quality heat pump is generally higher than a forced-air furnace. However, it also means you won’t have to purchase an air conditioner. If both systems are noticeably less efficient, you may actually save money up front by replacing them with a heat pump. Plus, you’ll recover any investment cost through lower energy bills over time.
If your home is missing the necessary ductwork, putting it in adds 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 diminish if you live in an area with exceptionally high electricity costs. You can mitigate this by putting up 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 suits 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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