Difference Between Heat Pump And a Furnace

Would you like to know the difference between a heat pump and a furnace? The two things have similar functions but are different in how they warm up the house. 

Which one is better for you depends on different factors, such as the climate, the space available, and the budget. If you want to know which one is better for you, check here for professional assistance. 

What is a heat pump? 

A heat pump is a part of the HVAC system responsible for cooling and heating your home. It is usually installed outside the house and performs two distinct functions. 

In winter, it takes the heat from the cold air and transfers it inside the house to make it warmer, while in summer, it takes the heat out of the house and moves it outside, making the house cooler. 

A heat pump uses electricity as an energy source and uses a refrigerant to perform its functions. In addition, if you need to add extra capabilities to your heat pump, maybe because you live in a colder climate, you can add an electric heat strip. 

Since it doesn’t function with fossil fuel, it is also eco-friendly. You could compare a heat pump to an air conditioner in reverse, or that it can warm up the house, not only cool it. 

What are the advantages of the heat pump?  

There are some advantages to choosing a heat pump instead of a separated air conditioning and heating system. The main benefits are:   

  • Lower energy bill
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Eco-friendlier

Heat pumps can provide up to three times the energy it uses from the electric system, which leads to excellent energy saving. 

In addition, using only a heat pump as the only system for heating and cooling, you only have to repair and maintain that one system and not two, lowering the yearly maintenance costs. 

Furthermore, heat pumps are more friendly to the environment since they do not use fossil fuel to generate heat. 

What are the disadvantages of a heat pump? 

Heat pumps also have some disadvantages. For example, if the weather becomes freezing cold, they are not so effective in warming the environment. 

Therefore, it might be necessary for those living in a snowy climate to have a second system in place to help warm up the house only when necessary. 

Heat pumps are not suitable for every house. For example, poorly insulated houses should not be warmed or cooled by a heat pump because you will consume a lot more to maintain the temperature. 

In some cases, it can be expensive to install a heat pump. Fortunately, it is possible to reduce the costs by taking advantage of grants. Another disadvantage can be related to the installation. Ground source heat pumps can be difficult to install and might require heavy equipment. 

What is a furnace? 

A furnace is a type of heating system that can work with oil, natural gas, and oil. Typically, it is connected to a thermostat, and when the temperature drops, the furnace will turn on. Similarly, the furnace will turn off if the temperature reaches the desired level. 

Furnaces get started through a pilot light or an electric ignition. Once started, it creates heat and blows it into the house. The furnace comprises a blower fan, a heat exchanger, and a flue ( to allow the fumes to go outside). 

What are the advantages of a furnace? 

The furnace has a series of advantages, such as: 

  • It is energy efficient
  • It can warm the air faster
  • It is affordable
  • It provides good indoor air quality

 Furnaces run on fossil energy and can warm up a house fast and effectively with a relatively small amount of fuel. In addition, a furnace can heat the environment relatively quickly. 

Furnaces that use natural gas are cost-effective since gas is a cheap energy source. 

In addition, a furnace can last for a long time, for example, 15 to 20 years, and you will be able to get back the money invested initially for the installation through the years. 

The air quality is way better when using a furnace because the hot air travels through ductwork studded with air filters. In addition, homeowners can install air purifiers, filtration systems, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and hot air. 

Disadvantages of a furnace? 

Furnaces have some disadvantages too. For example, electric furnaces are expensive in terms of energy consumption, and the electric bill will reflect it. On the other hand, those running on natural gas are less costly in the long run. 

But, although gas furnaces are cheaper, they have a shorter life expectancy. In addition, when malfunctioning, gas furnaces can pose a risk of fire, explosion, and even carbon monoxide poisoning. 

With a furnace, you will have to do regular maintenance to prevent common problems from affecting your system. For example, making sure the air ducts are cleaned without holes, changing the filters, and ensuring the thermostat is working correctly to prevent the system from over-cycling.  

Heat pump vs. furnace, which is better? 

Which one is better for you depends on your circumstances. The heat pump and the furnace have both advantages and disadvantages. You have to evaluate which one fits your home better, your budget, and your lifestyle. 

A heat pump could be better in a mild climate since it can be more energy-efficient, while a freezing area needs a furnace because it can warm an environment more effectively even in the cold. 

The heat pump transfers the heat from the outside to the inside, while the furnace can create it through the fuel. Therefore, when it gets too cold, the heat pump can have many problems finding the heat from the outside and thus become less efficient. 

Conclusion 

Heat pumps and furnaces have both advantages and disadvantages due to the different ways they function. If you are not sure if your home would perform better with a furnace or a heat pump, you should ask a professional to come and inspect your home and advise you. 

If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us. 

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