When you’re ready to replace your old furnace, don’t assume that a new furnace is the only option. 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 convincing reasons to choose a heat pump, how this equipment differs from a traditional furnace and whether a heat pump is the best choice for your home comfort needs.
The core design 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 key difference affects the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces have high annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings, which is understandably appealing. But this only relates to the furnace’s ability to convert fuel to heat—it doesn’t account for the whole energy footprint involved in the process of extracting, refining and transporting the 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 outperform 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 first thing that comes to mind when deciding on a new home appliance. Furnaces can be highly effective, but they max out at around 98% efficiency. On the other hand, heat pumps are capable of moving three times more heat energy than the electrical energy consumed in the process. In other words, heat pumps can be three times as 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 combustible 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 cleaner 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 heating system in the winter and doubles as your air conditioner for the summer. Thanks to a simple built-in switch, the heat pump changes its operation and draws out warm air from your home, similar to a standard AC unit. This dual-purpose solution is highly desireable to many homeowners.
Heat pumps operate more quietly than traditional furnaces because they don’t have to burn fuel to generate heat. No combustion means less noise, resulting in a quieter living space.
If your home is already equipped with ductwork, transitioning to a heat pump is fast and easy. The air handler goes where your furnace is currently located, and the outdoor unit replaces your air conditioner. It’s .
While heat pumps are remarkable, they may not suit every situation. Heating efficiency drops in severe 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 consistently effective in colder climates, so be on the lookout for models designed to continue working in these kinds of climates.
It’s also worth pointing out that the initial cost of investing in a high-quality heat pump is generally higher than a conventional furnace. However, it also means you won’t have to buy an air conditioner. If both systems are getting older, you may actually save money up front by upgrading them with a heat pump. Plus, you’ll gain back any investment cost through lower energy bills over time.
If your home doesn’t already have the necessary ductwork, installing 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 start to fall off 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 and many other electrical systems.
Still not sure if a heat pump is the right choice for you? Consult Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, and our Experts can help you determine if a heat pump suits your heating and cooling needs. Then, whether you opt for a heat pump or a traditional furnace, we can set up your new system above and beyond your expectations. Contact us today to ask for a free installation estimate.
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