When you’re ready to replace your old furnace, don’t assume that a new furnace is your only choice. This may be the default choice for most North American homeowners, but heat pumps are steadily growing in popularity. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump the best choice for you? Explore several convincing reasons to try a heat pump, how it is distinct 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 key difference influences the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces have high annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings, which is certainly appealing. But an AFUE rating only measures the furnace’s ability to convert fuel to heat—it won’t account for the entire energy footprint involved in the extraction, refining and transportation of the fuel.
By comparison, a heat pump’s efficiency is measured by its HSPF. While it’s not easy to compare these numbers at first glance, know that heat pumps often outperform furnaces.
Here’s why more and more homeowners are considering a heat pump for their year-round heating and cooling needs.
The operating cost is the number one priority when considering a new home appliance. Furnaces can be highly effective, but they max out at around 98% efficiency. On the other hand, heat pumps are capable of moving three times more heat energy than the electrical energy consumed during the process. In other words, heat pumps can be three times as efficient under the best operating conditions. This budget-friendly performance leads to reduced utility bills.
Your household’s environmental footprint could be much smaller with a heat pump. While electric furnaces can be found, traditional gas-fired furnaces run on natural gas or 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, especially if you also have solar panels to produce environmentally friendly electricity from the sun.
One of the most impressive features of a heat pump is its flexibility. It’s an effective heating system in the winter and doubles as your air conditioner during the summer. Thanks to a straightforward built-in switch, the heat pump switches its operation and draws out warm air from your home, similar to a standard AC unit. This two-in-one solution is highly desireable to many homeowners.
Heat pumps operate more quietly than traditional furnaces because they don’t have to combust fuel to generate heat. No combustion means less noise, resulting in a more peaceful living space.
If your home is already equipped with ductwork, transitioning to a heat pump is a fast, easy process. The air handler goes where your furnace is currently located, and the outdoor unit replaces your air conditioner. It’s just that easy.
While heat pumps are impressive, they may not suit every situation. Heating efficiency is much more limited in extreme 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 traditional 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 swapping them with a heat pump. Plus, you’ll gain back any investment cost through lower energy bills over time.
If your home doesn’t already have the necessary ductwork, putting it in contributes to your up-front costs. But furnaces need ductwork too, so this doesn’t necessarily lean toward 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 exceptionally high electricity costs. You can mitigate this by installing solar panels, which generate electricity from the sun to power your heat pump, light bulbs, electronics and more.
Still not sure if a heat pump is the right choice for you? Consult Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, and our Experts can help you determine if a heat pump matches your heating and cooling needs. Then, whether you opt for a heat pump or a traditional furnace, we can put in your new system above and beyond your expectations. Contact us today to request a free installation estimate.
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