Heat Pump or Furnace? Smiley’s Take
A question we often get from homeowners when heating season rolls around is whether a heat pump or a high-efficiency furnace would be better for their home’s heating needs. The answer is that it depends: there are some advantages and disadvantages to both, so we thought we’d give Atlanta homeowners the low-down on the heat pump vs. furnace debate.
What’s the Difference?
The most fundamental difference between the two is that a furnace heats air and then blows the heated air throughout the home, whereas a heat pump uses a special type of refrigerant to take existing heat and move it to the part of the house where it’s needed. This method of operation makes a heat pump able to perform environmental functions all year round: it can take heat from inside the house and move it outside during the summer, providing cooling, and can take heat from outside to inside the house in the winter.
Heat pumps can be up to 40% more efficient than gas furnaces, saving you money on energy costs during the winter heating season. They can be sized to a home so that they can run continuously (and thus more efficiently), as opposed to the cyclical operation of most furnaces. Furnaces do come in high-efficiency models, but don’t have the ability to switch modes in the summer
Heat pumps (in spite of their name) can also cool your house during the hot months of summer, which eliminates the need for a separate air conditioning system. This is a huge convenience – if you rely on a gas furnace to heat your home during the winter, you’ll need a separate air conditioning system during the summer. Using a heat pump also eliminates the need to pay for gas to run your furnace, although the heat pump will use electricity to run.
What’s Smiley’s Take?
Since Atlanta enjoys a relatively moderate climate, a heat pump is a good choice for effective home cooling and heating, and will make your home’s HVAC system as effective as a system that utilized a separate heater and air conditioner. Using a furnace for heating means that you’ll need a separate air conditioning system for cooling, a situation which almost always leads to more service and maintenance needs, less efficient operation and higher energy costs.
If you have any questions or are interested in switching from a furnace-based heating system to a heat pump, give us a call now and one of our friendly, experienced heating technicians can tell you everything you need to know about heat pumps and furnaces, and what your options are.