Heat pumps and furnaces both let you warm up the indoor air, but they differ in the amount of energy they use, how efficient they are, how they need to be maintained, how much space they use, and how expensive they are.
The country’s area where you live may be the most significant deciding factor between heat pumps and furnaces. Heat pumps are typically best suited for areas with mild winters, such as the south and the coast. The heating benefits of fireplaces are much more significant during harsher, colder winter conditions, which makes them better suited for northern climates. While natural gas is the most common fuel used in U.S. furnaces, propane, oil, and electric furnaces are also available. Choosing the right heating system for your climate will improve your comfort and probably decrease your operating costs as well.
Gas furnace vs. heat pump
Gas furnace or heat pump comparison, you’ll need to consider some factors, including how they work, how efficient they are, their maintenance requirements, and how big/large they are.
How do they work?
A heat pump uses electricity to transfer heat from the outside, even from cold air. Oil and gas are burned to generate heat in furnaces and boilers, while electricity is used in heat pumps. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s climate zone map, a heat pump produces less heat than a furnace, so it is most suited for warmer climates (zones 1-3).
In the summer, a heat pump can also be used as an air conditioner, giving them more versatility in creating comfortable indoor environments. A heat pump can be used to both heat and cool a house in a warmer climate. However, furnaces only generate heat, so you will need a separate air conditioner in the summer months to cool your home. It is possible to install a stove with a heat pump to create a dual fuel heating and cooling system known as a dual fuel system. Dual fuel heating systems can be more cost-effective. Combining a gas furnace with an air-source heat pump would be an example of this. The system has two heat sources, and it will calculate the most efficient means of heating your home based on the outdoor temperature.
It is hard to compare the energy efficiency of gas furnaces and heat pumps. Physicists will tell you that heat pumps are technically more energy efficient because they can move more energy than they consume. This is where things get complicated. A high-efficiency heat pump typically uses less source energy than a gas furnace in warmer climates.
Heat pumps that are ENERGY STAR certified perform better in colder climates than gas furnaces that are 95% efficient. A lifetime operating cost comparison should be made as well, given how much less natural gas costs than electricity. You can find out how much energy your home uses by talking to your local Carrier expert.
Performing preventative maintenance on heat pumps and furnaces will increase their lifespan and efficiency. The air filters in both systems are easily replaceable by homeowners. An indoor unit and an outdoor unit are typically found in home heat pumps, and they should be cleaned and inspected annually. In addition to a gas furnace, a central air conditioner is also commonly used. Carrier’s experts can help you determine the best service schedule for your specific system.
The standard clearance for indoor installation of a furnace is usually 30 inches all around. Heat pumps, however, do not require as much authorization, and they are installed outdoors. However, in addition to the air-source heat pump, a fan coil is also needed for the indoor air handling unit. It doesn’t matter what option you choose, and Carrier offers a complete line of gas and propane furnaces, heat pumps, and heat pumps that are compatible with virtually any home.
Read More: What Is Heat Pump Furnace? How Does My Heat Pump Work?
Is heating oil better than heat pumps?
If you live in an area where oil furnaces are standard, the oil furnace vs heat pump debate is similar to the gas furnace vs heat pump debate. On the other hand, oil furnaces require installation costs because a heat pump requires both an air handler and an outdoor unit. Aside from the price of heating oil, you’ll also have to consider the price of electricity. Heat pumps with high efficiency can be an excellent and effective option in milder climates. It may even be possible to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature when temperatures plummet to below freezing when living in colder weather.
Using a heat pump to save money Depending on the type of fuel you’re currently using to heat your house. The savings can add up if you heat using propane, fuel oil, or kerosene. A heat pump could not reduce your overall heating costs if you currently heat your home with wood or natural gas. (Nevertheless, you’ll lessen your carbon footprint. The cost per MMBtu of various fuels can be compared as an additional method of analysing your savings.
Oil furnaces must be refilled regularly, while heat pumps can run as long as there is no power outage. In the case when you’re still on the fence after considering all factors, your decision may be based upon what type of heating you prefer. Among the oil furnaces offered by Carrier is a comprehensive range of high-efficiency heat pumps.
Is an electric furnace better than a heat pump?
When comparing electric furnaces and heat pumps, their most considerable similarity is that both use electricity to heat the home. The two problems are more common in southern states, where winters are milder, and cooling needs take precedence overheating. Heat pumps move heat from the outside to the inside with the help of electricity, while electric furnaces use electric coils to generate heat. In colder climates, heat pumps often are used in conjunction with a backup heat source, in most cases, the waves in the air handler unit (fan coil) are electric resistance heaters.
Even though electric furnaces are 100% energy efficient, their price tag to produce the same amount of heat can be almost 2.5 times that of a heat pump. Additionally, heat pumps provide cooling as well as heating. Electric furnaces need central air conditioning or other cooling sources to keep cool during the summer months.
Please be aware that most of the discussion points related to heat pumps are air-source, split-system, forced-air heat pumps, which are the most popular in the U.S. Many of the same benefits apply to geothermal or ground-source heat pumps. Their energy efficiencies can be significantly higher than air-source models, but they usually have higher installation costs the first time they are installed. Another option is the ductless split-system heat pump, commonly used in U.S. commercial buildings, for home additions or replacing older houses with no ductwork.
Advantages of Gas Furnaces and Heat Pumps
- Cost Effective: Gas furnaces are generally less expensive to purchase and install than heat pumps. Additionally, natural gas is usually cheaper than electricity, making it a cost-effective option for heating homes.
- Efficient: Gas furnaces can reach high temperatures quickly, providing fast and efficient heating.
- Energy Efficient: Heat pumps use electricity to move heat from one place to another, making them more energy-efficient than gas furnaces.
- Eco-Friendly: Heat pumps do not release harmful pollutants into the air, making them an eco-friendly option.
Disadvantages of Gas Furnaces and Heat Pumps
- Carbon Emissions: Gas furnaces release carbon monoxide and other pollutants into the air, harming the environment and human health.
- Maintenance: Regular maintenance is required to keep gas furnaces running efficiently and safely, and repairs can be expensive.
- Limited Efficiency in Cold Climates: Heat pumps can struggle to heat homes in extremely cold climates and may require auxiliary heating, making them less cost-effective.
- Initial Cost: Heat pumps are more expensive to purchase and install than gas furnaces.