Heat Pumps vs. Furnaces: Which Is Better?

Although Florida does not have a winter comparable to northern states, it does drop a bit in December and January, forcing many to turn on their heat. Depending on your set up you may be using a heat pump or a furnace. As winter approaches and you begin to winterize your home, you may be needing to update your system and may be considering which heating option is better, a heat pump or a furnace? We don’t pick favorites ourselves, we feel that each has its own set of pro’s and con’s and leave it up to you, our consumers to determine which is better, the heat pump or the furnace.

Heat Pump vs. Furnace: Definitions

Heat Pump: The term “heat pump” is actually misleading as a heat pump is essentially an air conditioner that has a reversing valve (meaning it can run in reverse), so it can heat your home instead of cooling it. Like the AC pulls air and cools it, a heat pump pulls air and warms it. All heat pumps are air conditioners but not all air conditioners are heat pumps. It depends on the manufactures intended use. If your air conditioning system has a reversing valve and allows you to heat your home, then technically what you have installed is a “heat pump”.

Furnace: A furnace is a system that uses fuel to create its own heat and then circulates that heat throughout your home. The vast majority of furnaces operate on natural gas but can also run on oil, and there are a few types electric furnaces as well. Regardless of the type of fuel, the furnace creates the heat source by burning the fuel source and then distributes the generated heat to your home.

Heat Pump vs. Furnace: Efficiency

Furnaces are being developed using the latest technology these days, making them far more efficient than any of the previous products. The use of latest technology has increased their efficiency to about 98%. As a result, only about 2% of the fuel in it will ever escape during combustion.

On the other hand, heat pumps can have an efficiency level as high as 300% compared to a home furnace; this high efficiency rating is because they circulate heat via electricity. As a result, the home can be warmed faster and more consistently. Heat pumps also help to ensure that the temperature outside of the home doesn’t have an effect on the inside temperature on the home.

Heat Pump vs. Furnace: Heat Production

The method of heat generation in a furnace is traditional; it can be either by natural gas or oil.

Heat pump, on the other hand, does not generate heat for the home using fuel. Rather, they depend on refrigerant and electricity to move heat from one area to another – it does not have to generate heat itself (like a furnace does). This is what makes it more energy efficient and as an added bonus, no fossil fuels are being burned up in the production of heat.

Heat Pump vs. Furnaces: Summary

Do you have access to natural gas? Then you will find the traditional furnace more useful for heat generation in your home.  Although a heat pump may be more efficient in warming a home because it runs on electricity, it also costs more to run. Electricity is more costly than natural gas so if being efficient means cost savings rather than how fast your house warms up, then you can consider a furnace more efficient.

However, you can go for heat pump if you do not have easy access to natural gas; that is if there is no natural gas line leading to your home or office. If you prefer to run a “green” friendly home, then the energy efficiency of the heat pump is your best bet.

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