If it’s time 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 persuasive reasons to choose a heat pump, how it is distinct from a traditional furnace and whether a heat pump is the most efficient choice for your home comfort needs.
The underlying technology 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 influences the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces feature high AFUE ratings, which is undoubtedly appealing. But this only illustrates the furnace’s ability to convert fuel to heat—it doesn’t account for the entire energy footprint involved in extracting, refining and transporting said fuel.
In comparison, a heat pump’s efficiency is measured by its heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). While it’s difficult to compare these numbers at first glance, know that heat pumps typically 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 one of the first things homeowners worry about when deciding on a new home appliance. Furnaces are very efficient, but they max out at about 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 cost-effective performance leads to lower utility bills.
Your household’s environmental footprint could be more modest with a heat pump. While electric furnaces are available, traditional gas-fired furnaces run on natural gas or oil, the production and distribution of which harms the planet. A heat pump operates without burning fuel, shrinking your home’s environmental impact, especially if you also have solar panels to produce cleaner electricity from the sun.
One of the most notable features of a heat pump is its flexibility. It’s an effective wintertime heater and doubles as your air conditioner in the summer. Thanks to a straightforward built-in switch, the heat pump reverses its operation and extracts warm air from your home, just like a standard AC unit. This dual-purpose solution is highly desireable to many homeowners.
Heat pumps operate less noisily than traditional furnaces because they don’t have to ignite fuel to generate heat. No combustion means reduced noise, resulting in a more peaceful living space.
If your home has existing 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 .
While heat pumps are remarkable, they may not suit every situation. Heating efficiency is much more limited in extreme cold, making heat pumps less suitable 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 pointing out that the initial cost of purchasing a high-quality heat pump is frequently higher than a conventional furnace. However, it means you don’t have to purchase an air conditioner. If both systems are starting to show their age, 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, installing it 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.
Finally, a heat pump’s efficiency benefits diminish if you live in an area with higher than average electricity costs. You can counteract this by adding 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 suits 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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