When you’re ready to replace your old furnace, don’t move forward thinking a new furnace is the only option. This may be the preferred choice for most North American homeowners, but heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump the best choice for you? Explore several persuasive reasons to try a heat pump, how this equipment is distinct from a traditional furnace and whether a heat pump is the most efficient choice for your home comfort needs.
The core design between a heat pump and a traditional furnace is fundamentally 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 fundamental difference affects the equipment’s efficiency, environmental impact and versatility.
Modern condensing furnaces have high annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings, which is certainly appealing. But this only measures the furnace’s ability to convert fuel to heat—it can’t account for the whole energy footprint involved in the extraction, refining and transportation of the fuel.
By 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 frequently outperform furnaces.
Here’s why more and more homeowners are exploring 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 are very effective, but they max out at about 98% efficiency. On the other hand, heat pumps are capable of providing three times more heat energy than the electrical energy consumed throughout the process. In other words, heat pumps can be three times as efficient under ideal operating conditions. This cost-effective performance leads to more manageable 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 combustible natural gas or heating oil, the production and distribution of which harms the planet. A heat pump operates without burning fuel, reducing your home’s environmental impact, especially if you also have solar panels to generate green electricity from the sun.
One of the most notable features of a heat pump is its flexibility. It’s an effective heating system in the winter and doubles as your air conditioner for the summer. Thanks to a straightforward built-in switch, the heat pump reverses 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 run with less noise than traditional furnaces because they don’t have to combust fuel to generate heat. No combustion means reduced noise, resulting in a quieter living space.
If your home has existing ductwork, transitioning to a heat pump is quick and straightforward. The air handler will end up where your furnace is currently located, and the outdoor unit replaces your air conditioner. It’s as simple as that.
While heat pumps are innovative and energy efficient, they may not be suitable for every situation. Heating efficiency is much more limited in severe cold, making heat pumps less effective in regions with long, cold winters. However, advancements in cold-climate technology are making heat pumps more efficient overall in the far north, 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 investing in a high-quality heat pump is often higher than a traditional furnace. However, it also means you won’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 recoup any investment cost through lower energy bills over time.
If your home doesn’t already have the required ductwork, adding it increases your up-front costs. But furnaces need ductwork too, so this doesn’t necessarily prefer selecting 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 decrease if you live in an area with exceptionally high electricity costs. You can counteract this by adding 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 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 set up your new system above and beyond your expectations. Contact us today to request a free installation estimate.
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