Heat Pump vs Furnace: Which Home Heating System Is Best for You?

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There’s much to consider when thinking about which home heating system is best for you. We understand that it can be overwhelming when considering, “What’s best for heating my home? Heat pump vs furnace?” 

There’s a lot to explore when looking at whether you want a gas furnace or other types of furnaces during cold winters. Is your house lacking ductwork? Then a mini-split ductless air conditioning system could be your best bet. Ultimately, it comes down to which system is most suitable for your home when the temperature drops, the operating cost, and how the HVAC system will perform throughout its lifetime. 

Each heating system has its advantages, but choosing the right one depends upon which situations are best for various types of furnaces versus types of heat pumps. Our specialists have reviewed the differences between these two systems, and this article should help you determine which heating option is best for your household. Let’s get started!

What Is a Furnace?

Most homeowners are at least somewhat familiar with furnace heating systems. Furnaces use a fuel source to generate electricity in your home. By using either electronic ignition or pilot light, a furnace creates heat and disperses it throughout a household. Furnaces feature elements including a burner that burns the fuel, heat exchangers that transfer heat, a blower fan to distribute heat, and a flue that serves as the exhaust for gaseous by-products.

What Is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is an energy-efficient alternative to both furnaces and air conditioners. This appliance serves as the heat source and cooling system of a household. Heat pumps use electricity to transfer heat from a cool space to a warmer one. In cold weather, these appliances transfer heat from outdoors into your home and do the opposite during the summer months. 

Heat pumps are more efficient than furnaces because they don’t require electricity to keep your home warm. Instead, these units simply transfer heat from the indoors to the outdoors and vice versa. Even though this system doesn’t generate heat, it creates comfortable indoor air year-round. 

Comparing Heating Systems

Now that you have a general understanding of these systems and how they operate, you’re probably trying to piece together how they perform, how they affect electric bills, and how often they require maintenance. Let’s get into that now. 

Heating System Performance

The difference in performance between natural gas furnaces or electric furnaces and heat pumps often varies greatly depending on what region you live in and the relative climate year-round. In mild climates, a heat pump is likely the most frugal option and offers the best results. However, a heat pump can still get the job done in colder climates, even if it’s drawing from the cold outside air. The colder it is, the harder it will be for a heat pump to transfer heat from outdoors. In cold climates, a furnace is often the best home heating system. 

Home Energy Bills

As you learned in our heat pump explanation, heat pumps are extremely energy efficient in that they don’t utilize an energy source to draw heat. Heat pumps simply transfer heat, whereas furnaces generate it. As a result, high-efficiency heat pumps require considerably less energy to function. However, heat pumps have to work much harder in colder climates than furnaces. If you live in a colder climate, a furnace will most likely be more energy efficient. 

HVAC Maintenance

Both furnaces and heat pumps require periodic maintenance to ensure their optimal functionality. Any HVAC system will require maintenance, so don’t think that one type will save a quick buck over another. However, depending on the climate, a furnace may require less maintenance than a heat pump, especially in seasonal climates where the heating system is only being used a couple of months out of the year. 

Operating Costs

Homes with direct access to natural gas will find that the cost of a furnace may be considerably lower than a heat pump system. But a home without natural gas access will end up costing more simply to have the furnace installed. All in all, a heat pump is usually the most affordable home heating system in terms of installation costs.

Heat Pump vs Furnace Lifespan

A properly maintained heat pump will typically last a homeowner around 15 years, whereas a furnace can last as long as 20 years. In most cases, with proper maintenance, a furnace will last longer than a heat pump. 

Do You Need a New HVAC System?

The specialists at Home Comfort USA have been installing home heating systems for years. California residents rely on our expert services and budget-friendly installation processes to keep their homes comfortable. 

Don’t let the cold air get you down this winter! If you require a new HVAC system or would like to learn more about which home heating system is best for you, contact us today.

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