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 preferred choice for most North American homeowners, but heat pumps are steadily growing in popularity. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump your ideal heating system? 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 fundamental difference impacts the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces boast high annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings, which is undoubtedly appealing. But an AFUE rating only relates to 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.
By 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 frequently 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 quite effective, but they max out at around 98% efficiency. On the other hand, heat pumps are capable of providing three times the heat energy than the electrical energy consumed throughout 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 exist, traditional gas-fired furnaces run on combustible natural gas or heating oil, the production and distribution of which negatively impacts the planet. A heat pump operates without burning fuel, limiting your home’s environmental impact, particularly 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 flexibility. 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 reverses its operation and pulls 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 with less noise than traditional furnaces as they don’t have to combust fuel to generate heat. No combustion means reduced noise, resulting in a more peaceful living space.
If your home has existing 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 as simple as that.
While heat pumps are innovative and energy efficient, they may not fit every situation. Heating efficiency drops in severe cold, making heat pumps less ideal in regions with long, cold winters. However, advancements in cold-climate technology are making heat pumps more consistently effective in the far north, so keep your eye out for models designed to continue working in these kinds of climates.
It’s also worth mentioning that the initial cost of buying a high-quality heat pump is frequently higher than a conventional furnace. However, it means you don’t have to purchase an air conditioner. If both systems are noticeably less efficient, 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 is missing the necessary ductwork, installing it contributes 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 offset this by adding 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 right for you? Consult Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, and our Experts can help you figure out if a heat pump suits your heating and cooling needs. Then, whether you opt for a heat pump or a traditional furnace, we can put in your new system above and beyond your expectations. Contact us today to seek a free installation estimate.
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