If it’s time to replace your old furnace, don’t move forward thinking a new furnace is the only option. This may be the go-to choice for most North American homes, but heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump your ideal heating system? Explore several persuasive reasons to try a heat pump, how it 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 fundamentally different. Furnaces burn combustible substances such as 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 AFUE ratings, which is understandably appealing. But this 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 the fuel.
In comparison, a heat pump’s efficiency is measured by its heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). While it’s not easy to compare these numbers at first glance, understand that heat pumps often offer stronger performance than furnaces.
Here’s why more and more homeowners are looking into 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 are very 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 in the process. In other words, heat pumps can be 300% efficient under proper operating conditions. This cost-efficient performance leads to lower utility bills.
Your household’s environmental footprint could be more reduced with a heat pump. While electric furnaces exist, traditional gas-fired furnaces run on 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, limiting your home’s environmental impact, particularly if you also have solar panels to create cleaner electricity from the sun.
One of the most striking 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 for the summer. Thanks to a simple built-in switch, the heat pump changes its operation and draws out warm air from your home, much like a standard AC unit. This dual-purpose solution appeals to many homeowners.
Heat pumps operate less noisily than traditional furnaces as they don’t have to combust 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 a fast, easy process. The air handler will end up where your furnace is currently located, and the outdoor unit replaces your air conditioner. It’s just that easy.
While heat pumps are remarkable, they may not suit every situation. Heating efficiency is much more limited in severe cold, making heat pumps less ideal in regions with harsh winters. That being said, advancements in cold-climate technology are making heat pumps more efficient overall in colder climates, so be on the lookout for models designed to continue working in these kinds of climates.
It’s also worth mentioning that the up-front cost of buying a high-quality heat pump is frequently higher than a forced-air furnace. However, it also means you won’t have to purchase an air conditioner. If both systems are getting older, you may actually save money up front by upgrading them with a heat pump. Plus, you’ll recoup any investment cost through lower energy bills over time.
If your home is missing the required ductwork, adding it contributes to your up-front costs. But furnaces need ductwork too, so this doesn’t necessarily prefer 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 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 ideal for you? Consult Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, and our professionals can help you decide if a heat pump meets your heating and cooling needs. Then, whether you opt for a heat pump or a traditional furnace, we can set up your new system above and beyond your expectations. Contact us today to seek a free installation estimate.
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