If it’s time 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 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 consider 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 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 fundamental difference influences the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces boast high annual fuel utilization efficiency (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 entire energy footprint involved in extracting, refining and transporting said fuel.
By comparison, a heat pump’s efficiency is measured by its HSPF. While it’s difficult to compare these numbers at first glance, understand that heat pumps typically 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 one of the first things homeowners worry about when deciding on a new home appliance. Furnaces can be quite effective, but they max out at about 98% efficiency. On the other hand, heat pumps are capable of moving three times the heat energy than the electrical energy consumed throughout the process. In other words, heat pumps can be three times as efficient under the best operating conditions. This cost-efficient performance leads to more manageable utility bills.
Your household’s environmental footprint could be more modest 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 harms the planet. A heat pump operates without burning fuel, limiting your home’s environmental impact, particularly if you also have solar panels to create green electricity from the sun.
One of the most notable features of a heat pump is its flexibility. It’s an effective wintertime heater and doubles as your air conditioner in the summer. Thanks to a simple built-in switch, the heat pump switches its operation and draws out warm air from your home, just like a standard AC unit. This two-in-one solution appeals to many homeowners.
Heat pumps run less noisily than traditional furnaces since they don’t have to burn fuel to generate heat. No combustion means reduced noise, resulting in a calmer 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 innovative and energy efficient, they may not fit every situation. Heating efficiency drops in extreme cold, making heat pumps less ideal in regions with colder winters. At the same time, advancements in cold-climate technology are making heat pumps more viable in the far north, so keep your eye out for models designed to continue working in these kinds of climates.
It’s also worth noting that the up-front cost of purchasing a high-quality heat pump is often 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 replacing them with a heat pump. Plus, you’ll recoup any investment cost through lower energy bills over time.
If your home is missing the necessary ductwork, adding it adds to your up-front costs. But furnaces need ductwork too, so this doesn’t necessarily lean toward 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 counteract 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 professionals 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 install your new system above and beyond your expectations. Contact us today to seek a free installation estimate.
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