The What’s What
Here are some things to consider to help you in your decision-making process. And remember, you can always call one of our heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals from our Midwest Air Pros directory for more clarity on this whole subject.
What About a Heat Pump?
The short version of how a heat pump works is that it transfers heat from inside to outside and then outside to inside. It works on the same philosophy as an air conditioner—it doesn’t create heat, it simply moves it around.
A heat pump is also an air conditioner, so essentially you get a two-for-one system. Here are its pros and cons.
Heat Pump Pros
• Runs cleaner. A heat pump runs off electricity, so it’s a cleaner source of energy than gas or oil. It can create one-and-a-half to three times more energy than it uses.
• Can be safer. Because a heat pump runs on electricity, there’s no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or gas explosions.
• Can provide both heating and cooling. In other words, it is convenient and could be more cost effective in the right home. Moreover, there are no added components or elements. Just be sure to keep the heat pump well maintained, because the US Department of Energy (DOE) notes how this can result in a 10 to 25 percent difference in energy consumption as compared to a neglected one.
Heat Pump Cons
• Is more expensive to run. Since a heat pump operates entirely on electricity, it can possibly cost you more to run—electricity is generally higher in price than gas or oil. Of course, all of this depends on the price of electricity and the efficiency of your heat pump.
• Can sometimes only be used for heat in warmer climates. Some heat pump models only heat well in temperatures over 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, your home will need a supplementary heater, usually a furnace. This is known as a dual-fuel system.
• Has a shorter life span. A heat pump has an average projected life span of 12 to 15 years, while a furnace has an average 15 to 20 year life span. A heat pump suffers more wear and tear as well, since it runs year round, as opposed to a furnace that typically runs only a few months a year.
What About a Furnace?
The short version of how a furnace works is that it uses a fossil fuel to create its own heat, and then its fan blows the heat to different areas of your home via ductwork. Here are its pros and cons.
• Has a longer life span. Running only a few months of the year, a furnace’s life span is greater than a heat pump’s. Most furnaces nowadays can last 15 to 20 years.
• Requires less maintenance. Since a furnace is utilized only part of the year, the wear and tear is less, resulting in fewer repairs with proper annual maintenance by a professional—like one of our Midwest Air Pros HVAC experts.
• Can be used in homes everywhere. A furnace can be installed in any climate, regardless of the temperatures, including your home.
• Can’t cool air. Since a furnace can only heat air, unlike a heat pump, you would need to make an additional investment in an air conditioner.
• Not as safe. Any time gas or oil involved, there is an inherent safety risk of fire or an explosion, no matter how minimal the risk. And with gas, a carbon monoxide leak is possible.
• Not as environmentally friendly to run. Gas and oil don’t burn as efficiently as electricity. Their burning produces toxic gases released into the environment.
What It All Comes Down To
As far as which is a better choice, you should take into account several important factors–– such as your area’s climate, the energy rates for electricity and gas, how environmentally friendly the energy source would be––and go from there. If you have more concerns regarding furnaces or heat pumps, don’t hesitate to contact one of our highly trained and knowledgeable teams.