When you’re deciding which type of heating system to purchase for your home, it’s important that you consider the specifics of your situation. Gas-powered and electric furnaces are the most popular in the United States, but it’s very possible that a heat pump could be a better fit for your home. Things like the weather in your area, the amount you’re looking to spend, and the space constraints of your house should all be factored into your final decision.
A new heating system is an investment that should last you 10 to 15 years, so it’s worth taking the time to evaluate your options before making your choice. Once you’ve learned about the differences between furnaces and heat pumps, you will be informed enough to pick the appliance that will benefit your home and lifestyle the most.
How Do These Appliances Work?
Before you decide what type of heating system is right for your home, you should understand the different ways in which they provide heat. The main difference comes down to the idea that while furnaces create heat, heat pumps take heat that already exists outside and transfers it into your home.
For furnaces that use propane or natural gas, the process is to generate heat using a combustion process in which the fuel is continually burned. Instead of creating warmth in this manner, heat pumps use pressurized refrigerant coils to absorb natural heat from the outdoors. After they pull in this heat, warming the house is a simple matter of circulating it via your ductwork and vents.
If you live in an area that frequently sees low temperatures, a furnace might be the best choice for your household. For a gas-burning or electric furnace, the process of generating heat won’t be any more difficult in cold weather than it is in warm weather. Granted, it will likely be required to generate more of it, but the process won’t be any more challenging on its own.
This isn’t the case for a heat pump. Because a heat pump has to pull heat from outside, it has an easier time doing its job when there’s more warmth to be found. These pumps can still heat your home when it’s cold outside, but they have to work much harder and take on more wear and tear to do so. They also typically cost much more to operate in especially cold climates. So, if you live somewhere chilly and don’t want your energy costs to skyrocket during winter, you’ll probably want to go with a furnace.
A furnace may also be the best option if you highly value peace and quiet in your home. For one thing, furnaces will most commonly be located in a place like your basement or utility room, which will usually be out of earshot for most of the home. Plus, the only noise they tend to make when operating properly is the quiet sound of air whooshing.
Heat pumps, on the other hand, tend to make a clicking or whistling noise regularly, even when they’re running smoothly. This noise is caused by the pump’s compressor cycling on and off while the refrigerant circulates. It’s common to misinterpret these sounds as being a red flag, but they actually aren’t indicative of any problems.
Heat Pump Benefits
Arguably the largest benefit of owning a heat pump is its low cost of operation. Of course, if you live in an abnormally cold climate or don’t take good care of the appliance, your monthly costs will inevitably be higher. However, when looked at in a vacuum, a heat pump can cost as much as several hundred dollars less per month when compared to a gas-burning furnace. This is mainly the case because the combustion process that furnaces use requires far more energy than absorbing heat from outside. Electric furnaces are typically right between heat pumps and gas-burning furnaces in terms of monthly energy usage; their heating method of blowing air over a hot element requires a moderate amount of energy.
Heat pumps are also a great option for those who have limited space in their home. This is because the heat pump’s compressor, which requires a 24-inch clearance around it, is always set up outside of the home. The pump’s air handler will need to be inside the house, but it doesn’t require clearance and can sometimes even be mounted high on the wall. Alternatively, a furnace requires a 30-inch clearance space and needs to be installed inside of your house. This extra space is for fire safety purposes, but it isn’t convenient if you don’t have much extra room to work with.
Another major benefit of heat pumps is their diversity. In addition to heating your home, they can cool you down in the summertime as well. If you own a furnace, you will also presumably need to purchase a separate air conditioner unit for when the weather heats up. In addition to the extra financial expense, this will also take up more space in your home. Having a heat pump eliminates this need because of its ability to switch over to cooling mode. All it needs to do to circulate cool air is reverse the pressure and flow of the refrigerant through its coils. On average, using a heat pump for cooling will leave you with a comparable monthly cost to what you’d be spending with an air conditioner.
Although it isn’t always the case, heat pumps are usually less expensive to install as well. The installation cost varies on a case-by-case basis, but on average, a gas or electricity-powered furnace will cost at least a few hundred more dollars than a standard heat pump. Granted, there are special geothermal heat pumps that cost as much as $25,000 to install, but these pumps are only a fit for specific circumstances. These geothermal pumps have their coils located underground, where the temperature remains mostly stable. This means that they don’t need to work any harder regardless of how low the temperature drops. That being said, the excavation needed to install them is the main reason the price is so high.
Your Trusted Local Professionals
We at SDAC Heating & Air Conditioning are proud to be a reliable provider of heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services to the greater Lakeside, CA, area. We believe in always putting our customers before everything else, and our dependable service comes backed by years of experience and high standards. Over the years, we’ve been able to build an excellent reputation in our California community due to our integrity and commitment. We promise that we will never oversell or undersell a situation, and we stick to flat-rate pricing because we want our customers to know they’re being treated with complete honesty.
Our team has the skill and experience required to handle your household needs. Call us up at SDAC Heating & Air Conditioning today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.