Heat Pumps vs Furnace
Which HVAC system is Better
Thinking about new HVAC system for your house and want to compare heat pumps vs. furnace? The comparison process can be confusing and time consuming, unless you check out this guide, where we compare air to air heat pumps vs gas furnaces helping you find the pros, cons and benefits they offer, so you can buy the right type and the best model for your house.
Before going into detailed comparison and explore the differences, let’s see how both types work during the heating process.
The heat pump is designed to heat, cool and dehumidify, while the furnace is used to generate heat only. While in the heating mode, the heat pump doesn’t generate heat as the furnace; it rather moves the warm air from one place to another – absorbing heat from the air at one location and transfer to other.
The gas furnace burns the natural or propane gas in the combustion chamber and transfers the heat to water or air – for home heating.
Some percentage of that heat is lost in the ducts, more for traditional and less for condensing type. As the maximum efficiency of the gas furnace can reach about 98%, the heat pumps can supply more heating and cooling capacity than the amount of electricity used, reaching the efficiency of about 300%.
Advantages of heat pumps
- Heat pumps provide an efficient way for heating and cooling your home. Heat pump efficiency is shown as SEER; efficiency of the gas furnace is shown as AFUE.
- During heating, the heat pump does not generate dry air as the furnace, so no need to buy the humidifier to increase humidity inside the house.
- Heating with the heat pump is more comfortable, heat is distributed evenly and there is no temperature fluctuation as present in gas furnace heating and the noise level is lower as the compressor and fans are outside.
- Heat pumps’ operation cost is lower than the cost of the furnace to run.
- Heat pumps are safer to run as there is no open flame and no gas fumes; also there is no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- The heat pump is durable and can last longer that the gas furnaces.
- Heat pumps are great solution for the homeowners who do not have natural gas hooked up, or want to avoid expensive propane gas usage.
- As the heat pumps produce hot water at lower temperature than furnace, they are great for use with underfloor heating systems.
- Heat pumps are reliable and do not require complicate maintenance.
- HP can be used for cooling in summer months, while the furnace cannot.
- Heat pumps are expensive to buy and the installation costs are higher.
- Installation requires an expert - the right knowledge and proper tools.
- The refrigerant, especially in older heat pumps is not environment-friendly.
- The heat pump has low energy efficiency during the winter time (when the temperatures are below freezing), so they require supplemental heating. As the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures increases more energy is needed to move the heat, making the heat pump inefficient in such climates. Gas furnace can heat your home in any climate, regardless of the outside conditions. The efficiency of the gas furnace does not depend on the weather conditions; it is the same no matter what the outside temperature is.
- The heat produced by the heat pump is not as intense as when produced by the furnace, which might be uncomfortable for some. This is why it is recommended to have a house well insulated and properly sealed windows and doors.
To summarize; it is a big decision to make - whether to buy a heat pump or furnace. The main factor is the region you live in, or climate, other factors include the cost of the fuel in your area and your preference. Either looking to buy HVAC system for a new house or planning to replace an existing system, install a heat pump if living in the area with the moderate climate and if there is no natural gas supply, otherwise consider gas condensing furnace. Make sure you have gathered all the needed information, talked to more than one installer, collected at least three quotes and compared the quality and prices, and then make the decision.