When you’re ready to replace your old furnace, don’t assume that a new furnace is the only option. This may be the go-to choice for most North American households, but heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump your ideal heating system? Explore several convincing reasons to consider a heat pump, how it is distinct from 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 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 influences the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces boast high AFUE ratings, which is undoubtedly appealing. But an AFUE rating only relates to 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.
In 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, be aware 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 number one priority when contemplating a new home appliance. Furnaces can be highly effective, but they max out at approximately 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 300% efficient under ideal operating conditions. This budget-friendly performance leads to lower utility bills.
Your household’s environmental footprint could be more modest with a heat pump. While electric furnaces exist, traditional gas-fired furnaces run on combustible natural gas or heating oil, the production and distribution of which has a detrimental effect on the planet. A heat pump operates without burning fuel, reducing your home’s environmental impact, especially if you also have solar panels to generate environmentally friendly 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 during the summer. Thanks to a straightforward built-in switch, the heat pump switches its operation and extracts warm air from your home, just like a standard AC unit. This dual-purpose 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 less noise, resulting in a more peaceful living space.
If your home already has ductwork, transitioning to a heat pump is quick and straightforward. 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 remarkable, they may not fit every situation. Heating efficiency declines in severe cold, making heat pumps less suitable in regions with long, cold winters. That being said, advancements in cold-climate technology are making heat pumps more viable in the far north, so be on the lookout for models designed to continue working in these kinds of climates.
It’s also worth pointing out that the up-front cost of buying a high-quality heat pump is often higher than a traditional 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 recover any investment cost through lower energy bills over time.
If your home is missing the necessary ductwork, installing it increases your up-front costs. But furnaces need ductwork too, so this doesn’t necessarily lean toward opting for 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 higher than average electricity costs. You can offset 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 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 ask for a free installation estimate.
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