Heat Pump Vs. Furnace

Heat Pump Vs. Furnace: Which Heating System is Best For Your Home?

Being one of the prominent components of HVAC systems, heat pumps, and furnaces both warm the air and make the environment hotter till the set point. But the reason behind the never-ending debate about heat pump Vs. Furnace has not reached the final result yet.

Whether due to structural differences, working abilities, or expensiveness, determining the heat pump vs gas furnace efficiency and choosing the best is challenging.

Therefore, we are here to end this discussion. Let’s move forward and learn about the basic differences between Heat pumps and furnaces so you can decide which is better for you. So, let’s dig in….

Heat Pump vs Furnace: A Basic Rundown 

A heat pump is a two-in-one system in your HVAC that performs heating and cooling of the air according to the set points in the thermostat.

In summer, the heat pump transfers the heat of indoor air to the expenditure of electricity and makes the environment cooler. 

While in winter, it transfers the outdoor heat of the atmosphere into the room to make them warmer.

It basically works by transferring the heat between the indoor environment and the outdoor atmosphere according to the temperature needs at the expense of electricity.

While the furnace only works on heating the indoor air, using gas supply and fuels, it generates heat and blows it throughout the room to make the environment warmer.

They are linked to the thermostat devices and are triggered for working by the changes in the temperature deducted by thermostats.

Related : Best Buying Guide for HVAC

Heat Pump vs Furnace: Pros and Cons

Heat Pump Vs. Furnace

Here we have discussed a few of the significant pros and cons of heat pump vs gas furnace in your residential or commercial HVAC system. So, let’s have a quick look at them!

1. Expensiveness:

In terms of installation cost, installing a heat pump in your HVAC can cost you around $4000 to $8000, much more than installing a furnace, costing from $2000 to $5000.

While for monthly expenses, a heat pump works on electricity only, and a furnace works on gas supply. 

So, if the electricity supply in your area is cheaper, having a heat pump will cost you less than a furnace. 

And if the gas supply is affordable in your location, a furnace is an affordable option in winter rather than a heat pump.

2. Efficiency:

A heat pump will serve you as an ultimate solution in both summers and winters, while a furnace will work only in winters.

So, for the summer, in order to cool the air and have a comfortable cold environment, you have to look for another option.

However, a furnace is much more efficient for warming the air as it warms the same amount of air quickly as a heat pump takes hours. But the gas fuel costs will be higher than the heat pump.

3. Maintenance:

The average life span of the furnace, with proper and regular maintenance, can last up to 20 years, whether you have your HVAC in the residential or commercial sector. In contrast, a heat pump has a life span of 15 years.

As the furnace works less than a heat pump and only in winter, it requires less maintenance or replacements compared to a heat pump. Also, its repair is less costly and quick.

4. Performance:

The performance capabilities of both HVAC systems depend on your location’s outdoor atmosphere and temperature.

Let’s suppose the outdoor atmosphere is freezing, and you have a heat pump that transfers the outdoor warmth indoors; your heat pump efficiency and warming capability will be less.

Comparatively, a furnace that generates electricity from burning fuels to produce heat and warm the indoor environment will experience more incredible warmth than a heat pump.

But again, operating a furnace is expensive and limited to winters only.

5. Safety:

As a furnace operates by burning fuel and generates electricity to work, it produces many harmful and environment-damaging substances, like carbon-based substances, that can cause damage to nature as well as the people in the surrounding.

While heat pumps that work on the expenditure of electricity are environment-friendly and don’t cause any damage to nature and your loved ones.

6. Components:

A heat pump comprises simple, accessible, affordable maintenance components that are the main pump where all the heat exchanging process takes place—the evaporator, where the refrigerant absorbs heat from the air and lowers its temperature. 

The outdoor compressor facilitates heat transfer and air circulation, and the compression and expansion valve adjusts the temperature according to the needs of the main pump.

On the other hand, the list of gas furnace components is long and complex. It contains a burner controlled by the thermostat of your HVAC machine, which burns with the help of fuel, and the whole air warming process begins. 

Then the gas is thrown into the heat exchanger, which is turned into heat and moved to your home’s ductwork. 

And then combustion occurs, and after that, the combusted air is moved to the air distribution system consisting of plenum, blower, and ventilation pipes.

Heat Pumps vs Furnaces: Types and Working Efficiencies

Heat Pump Vs. Furnace

Types of Heat Pumps

Heat pumps in HVAC systems are available in the following configurations:

  • Air-To-Air:

It is the most commonly found, easiest to install, and affordable option of all other heat pumps. It extracts heat or coldness from the outdoor atmosphere and transfers it to indoor air.

  • Water Source:

In this type of heat pump, the heat to warm the indoor air is extracted from water by pumping water into the heat pump from a continuous and direct source of large amounts of water.

  • Geothermal Source:

Geothermal heat pumps heat the indoor air by extracting heat from the ground and soil of Earth. It is comparatively expensive to install and challenging to maintain and repair. 

Still, it is the most effective option as the heat supply under the Earth’s surface is constant and high.

Types of Furnace

Furnaces in HVAC systems are available in the following configurations:

  • Natural Gas:

The natural gas furnace uses natural gas to burn the burner and produce electricity to heat the air and make it warm. 

However, it is the most effective type of furnace but is highly environment-damaging due to the production of carbon-based substances.

  • Oil:

Like natural gas, this furnace requires oil for burning the burner and heating the air to warm the environment. 

But it is cheaper than natural gas furnaces as oil prices are lower. It also produces carbon mono oxide and requires a complete and thorough ventilation system.

  • Electricity:

Electric furnaces use an electric supply to pull the outdoor air of the environment and treat it according to the thermostat’s required temperature, then circulate it indoors. 

But it requires an electricity supply, and as electricity is more expensive than oil and gas, it can make your utility bill skyrocket.

  • Propane:

Propane, a natural gas and oil byproduct, is an excellent option if you live in an area where propane is less expensive than electricity, gas, oil, or natural gas. And it also produces carbon that damages the atmosphere.

So, Which is Better: A Furnace or a Heat Pump?

Heat Pump Vs. Furnace

Answering the question of which is a better option, furnace vs heat pump, is tricky and depends on hundreds of factors. 

Whether you bring the increasing price of gas and electricity under the spotlight or think about the need for cool air in summer, only you can decide the best option by getting through your needs.

A heat pump is effective if the summer in your location is extreme and you cannot simply afford to live without a cooling system. Plus the electricity charges are affordable for your comfort.

While getting a furnace is profitable if the winters are freezing, oil, gas, or electricity prices are affordable, and you want a robust warming environment indoors.

Plus, the maintenance and repair needs and cost of the furnace are higher than the heat pump due to the complex components and working process.

Therefore, as you know, warming and cooling systems, whether heat pumps or furnaces, regardless of the types and categories, are certainly not a small or short-term investment; it is best to have a thorough look at your budget and rising prices of natural gas, oil, and electricity and understand your summer and winter needs.

And then, decide whether to install a heat pump or furnace in your home.

FAQs: Solution to Your Common Concerns 

Do furnace cools the air in summers?

No, a furnace only warms the indoor air environment in winter. According to thermostat set points, it contains a burner that works on the expenditure of electricity, gas, or oil that produces electricity to heat the indoor air and warm the environment.

Can I use heat pumps in both summer and winter?

Yes, unlike the furnace warming the air in winter only, a heat pump can cool the air in summer and warm it in winter according to your environmental needs. 

It works on electricity and warms and cools the air by transferring heat between indoor and outdoor environments.

Which is more efficient; heat pumps or furnaces?

In terms of warmth, the furnace maintains a warmer temperature than heat pumps in winter. At the same time, heat pumps are beneficial and workable in summer and winter. 

Moreover, the costs, maintenance, life span, and other aspects are separate for determining the efficiency of both HVAC systems.

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