In the family tree of HVAC heating systems, furnaces and heat pumps are like cousins to each other. They share the same extended family, but their means of operation is too different to consider them siblings.
So, here’s where this analogy gets awkward: you definitely shouldn’t play favorites with family members, but you can only choose one for your main heating system. Before committing to one of them, we want you to understand the potential benefits of both systems.
We’ll try and help you do that by going over three of the top deciding factors for each system.
These heating systems use a heat exchanger to generate warm air. They also require a duct system to distribute the heat around your home.
1. Can Use Natural Gas
With furnaces, you have the choice of electric or natural gas power. For most homeowners, however, natural gas is the clear winner. Even though furnaces are technically more efficient running off electricity, the cost to use natural gas is still less expensive. Some may worry about the risks of using natural gas, but we can assure you that gas furnaces are perfectly safe when installed and maintained by a professional.
2. Heat Consistently Through All Temperatures
Now, this isn’t to say that heat pumps cannot provide heat through all temperatures. However, some brands will need to rely on an auxiliary heating mode to shoulder some of the burden when temperatures dip too low. With furnaces, their mode of heating prevents this from ever being a problem in the first place. You’ll never have to worry about the cold as long as your furnace is in good condition.
3. Lower Priced but Reliable
Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons that homeowners say, “Yes” to furnaces is the cost and ease of installation. Most homes are already equipped with the necessary HVAC equipment to receive a furnace. Plus, installation and cost of the unit is less expensive than a heat pump.
Heat pumps only use electricity, and they may or may not require the use of a duct system to distribute heat.
1. Both Cool and Heat
One of the stand-out benefits of a heat pump is its ability to both heat or cool a space, changing functions with the simple flick of a switch. Homeowners that need a new heater and have been considering AC will find a heat pump to be the perfect solution.
2. Use Electricity Efficiently
The heat pump’s method for heating relies on a process more similar to heat transference than combustion. This is a less energy-intensive process, and one that makes heat pumps renowned for their efficiency.
For most temperatures through the winter, the heat pump will operate even more efficiently than a gas furnace.
3. Provide a Ductless Option
Heat pumps can be installed with ducts, the same way that your furnace would be. However, you can also opt for the ductless mini split heat pump. This system consists of several indoor air handlers—roughly one for each room. Or, you can install just one single mini split unit to supplement the reach of your furnace.
Most importantly, each air handler comes with its own temperature controls, giving you more flexibility and control over your system.