Heat Pump or Furnace? With winter right around the bend, new homeowners and current homeowners alike oftentimes find themselves questioning their current heating system. Maybe a system you’ve had has gotten old and outdated. Will it last past the cold winter, or will you be left in the cold? New homeowners need to decide what heating system they need in their house altogether. This can be a confusing and trying task. Luckily, we’re here to help! Before temperatures get too cold, here are a few ways you can figure out what heating system is best for you :
Heat Pump or Furnace: What’s the Difference?
To begin, many may not know the real difference between a heat pump and a furnace. A heat pump simply takes air outside the home and pushes it inside. As this happens, the air is heated. Contractors will attest to this process being much more complex, but a heat pump at its most basic form is comparable to a reverse AC, functioning solely off your electricity. A furnace, on the other hand, most commonly generates its own power using gas. That power generated is then used to heat your home through a system of ducts throughout your house.
Heat pumps tend to be much more energy efficient because they run on electricity as opposed to burning fuel. The efficiency of a heat pump gives a boost to its popularity, especially when gas costs are up. Though efficient, heat pumps do not last as long as furnaces. On average, a properly maintained heat pump lasts about 10 years whereas a properly maintained furnace can last about 20 winters or more. So, thinking about long-term care costs and knowing when you may need to be revisiting this thought process is important to keep in mind.
Often, the primary question people have is cost. Heat pumps usually cost less to install, mostly because a furnace needs to have ventilation/ ductwork done to accommodate it. Fuel costs are an obvious deterrent for many when considering the installation of a furnace, especially with the constant cold weather. Electricity rates are oftentimes lower than natural gas, meaning a heat pump will cost less to continually run. However, a heat pump can sometimes be just as costly as a furnace as they require more electricity expenditure to heat your home during the cold, whereas a furnace has the ductwork to heat it all while working less to do so. Overall, heat pumps will tend to be the cheaper option but depending on use, costs may compound and add up to more over time.
Heat pumps generally work best when in moderate climates rather than harsh winter conditions. A heat pump is most effective when the temperature outside is above freezing, making heat pumps less than ideal for a typical New England winter. A furnace, which generates its own heat, would be a better bet for your wallet and warmth in the winter months. Heat pumps work well in areas that do not see much snowfall or freezing temperatures, so if you’re located in an area with milder winters, or in an area with tougher access to gas or oil, a heat pump may be the best way to go.
Safety is, with no exaggeration, the most important factor in purchasing any new appliance. Without taking safety into consideration your house, health, and wallet could be in more danger than it was before any actions were taken. When comparing a heat pump and a gas furnace, it may be no surprise that a heat pump is a majorly safer option. This is mostly due to a heat pump using electricity while a gas furnace uses combustible fuel sources to provide heat. While an electrical malfunction is still a possibility with a heat pump, there is much more risk involved with a furnace. Carbon monoxide poisoning due to gas leakage is a very serious matter than, if gone unnoticed, can put your entire house at risk. Also with a gas leak comes the possibility of an explosion or a fire within your home, which is not only a safety risk but could cost a gigantic amount of money in repairs. Yearly maintenance should be able to prevent those worst-case scenarios from occurring, but as far as your safety is concerned, a gas furnace is the riskier option.
Deciding between heat pumps and furnaces can be a difficult task in time for winter. This decision requires time, research and knowing what works best for your home, budget, an area where you live. But knowing the basics and what direction to look in first can help your search run much smoother, more quickly, and leave you warmer in the winter months. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as pointing at one option and saying it’s better than the other. The context of where you live and the layout of your house play huge roles in this heating system decision-making process, so be sure to do proper research and make a heating system decision that will help you in the long-run.
Call Raynor Services today for more information on heat pumps vs furnaces!