Heat Pump vs Furnace

Brown’s Chimes in on the Heat Pump vs. Furnace Debate

Heat Pump vs Furnace

Are you weighing the value of a heat pump vs. furnace for your heating system? While the furnace was once considered the tried and tested method to heat your home, heat pumps have now been in play for more than 70 years. The choice between the two can be confusing. It’s important to seek expert advice in your home heating decision because all homeowners, spaces, budgets, and applications are unique. Let’s take a look at some key differences before you start a conversation with an expert.

1. Operation of Heat Pump vs. Furnace 

Forced air furnaces use a flame to heat the air. Air is blown by a fan in the furnace box to the ductwork and through the vents of your home. Heat pumps don’t generate heat or increase air’s temperature. Instead, heat pumps move heat in the desired direction for the season. In the winter, the pump extracts heat from the outdoor air or ground and distributes it to your home.

2. Power Source of Heat Pump vs. Furnace 

A furnace can be fueled by oil, natural gas, or electricity. Oil is the least efficient and least green for the environment. Burning both oil and natural gas produces a carbon monoxide byproduct, which must be properly vented to ensure safety. Even modern natural gas and electric powered furnaces must be properly maintained to reduce the risk of fire.

Heat pumps also need a power source because they move heat in the direction opposite of nature. The power for heat pumps is electricity to supplement the action of a compressor. In addition, a heat pump system must be charged with refrigerant.

3. Application of Heat Pump vs. Furnace 

A climate like the Southeast that has milder winters works well for a heat pump. In addition, locations with low electric rates warrant a close look at a heat pump for your home. Your heating and cooling needs in the summer will be covered as heat pumps reverse their direction of heat transfer.

A heat pump application where temperatures drop close to freezing requires a small-scale furnace backup. The backup is less efficient than a typical furnace. If it will be used frequently, a traditional furnace may be the way to go.

New homes offer a blank slate for the heat pump vs. furnace debate. In retrofit or repair applications, mimicking the existing system is often the cheapest option. Call 803-222-7264 for the best answer to the heat pump vs. furnace question for you.