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4 Ways to Compare a Heat Pump to a Furnace

When it’s getting colder outside, you need an effective, cost-efficient means to keep the family warm. Most homeowners are torn over whether to get a furnace or use a heat pump. As you might imagine, there are several factors to consider when deciding between a heat pump or furnace. Let’s compare furnaces and heat pumps to help you determine which is the better option for you.

Factors to Consider when Comparing Furnaces and Heat Pumps:

Climate and Location

Your physical location should be a major consideration when deciding between a heat pump or a furnace – because your local climate can almost make the decision for you! Furnaces tend to be better for locations that have longer, colder winters. That’s because Furnaces directly heat the air by using fuel combustion or electric heating elements, then forcing the warm air through ductwork to raise the indoor temperature quickly and efficiently. That’s a must in icy weather! Heat pumps, on the other hand, work by extracting heat from the outdoor air (even in cold temperatures) and transferring it indoors to warm the space. However, as outdoor temperatures drop, the amount of heat available for extraction decreases, making it less efficient for heat pumps to operate effectively. Typically they are the most efficient in areas that don’t get as cold or that experience a shorter winter. If you want the best of both worlds, consider combining a heat pump with a furnace.  During mildly cool weather in fall and spring, you can take advantage of the heat pump for maximum efficiency. When freezing weather hits, the furnace can kick in and keep your family toasty.

Energy Source

When you take a deeper look at the technology, heat pumps and furnaces operate quite differently because they rely on different means to heat the home. A furnace uses natural gas as the heat source while heat pumps rely solely on electricity. This difference tends to make heat pumps more cost-effective because they are more energy-efficient. This also makes heat pumps a more environmentally friendly heating option. While costs vary based on the weather in your local and your personal rate of consumption, you will likely pay more to operate a furnace because you must pay for natural gas in addition to electricity. Bear in mind though, today’s high-efficiency furnaces use roughly 50% less energy than older models.

Home Type and Structure

You will also want to consider your personal temperature tolerances and how well your home is insulated. This is something you can discuss with your HVAC specialist to see which option would suit your needs the most cost-effectively. Generally, here in the mid-Atlantic region, a heat pump will probably work fine if your home retains heat well and isn’t drafty. If you have a larger home; an older, drafty home; or have multiple people living with you, a heavy-duty furnace might be a better fit.

Technology and Maintenance

Heat pumps are often easier and less expensive to install since their mechanics are not as complex as furnaces. Furnaces require a ventilation system and have more moving parts, so they tend to be more expensive to install. Over time, a furnace requires more servicing to prevent and correct issues. Therefore, lck of maintenance may lead to a shorter lifespan when comparing a furnace with a heat pump. However, in a colder climate, gas furnaces are usually a better investment simply because they can handle very cold weather while providing more consistent, reliable heat.

So: What’s the Best System for Your Home?

Each system — furnace or heat pump — offers its own set of benefits and disadvantages: one system is not necessarily better than the other. The best way to compare the two on the basis of your individual needs. Consider your options holistically. You’ve already read the considerations in this blog and are no doubt thinking about which option best fits your home and lifestyle. You may want to discuss these options with family members to help you get a feel for your overall heating requirements. To help you make the most efficient and cost-effective decision, be sure to consult with an experienced HVAC specialist.

Contact Exxel For Expert Advice!

At Exxel Mechanical Services, our experienced specialists are trained in both furnace and heat pump systems to help you narrow down which solution is best for your home. If you live in Mount Airy, MD or anywhere within our expansive service area, we’ll carefully examine your house’s energy efficiency and physical features to present you with the best options. Additionally, we offer maintenance and repair services to keep your system in tip-top shape. To get a custom heating recommendation, contact us today for a consultation!