What Is The Difference Between A Furnace And Heat Pump?

image of a gas furnace

During the winter, it’s important to have a home that’s capable of keeping you warm and safe from the extreme, outside cold. As such, many homeowners are interested in purchasing the perfect heating systems for meeting their household needs. In general, there are two incredibly popular options that people have access to – the heat pump and the furnace. You might find it hard to pick just one early on. To assist you in your selection, you’ll have to look at the capabilities, features, benefits, and drawbacks of both a furnace vs heat pump system.

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How Are Furnaces And Heat Pumps Different?

This article will help you learn more about the differences that exist between heat pumps and furnaces.

What A Heat Pump Is

A heat pump is a form of HVAC equipment that’s designed to transfer heat to your home, rather than actually generating it. More often than not, heat pumps have a consistent heat source that produces thermal energy. This heat is transferred to a thermodynamic system known as a heat reservoir, which will both store it and distribute it as needed.

Heat pumps have four primary components: the evaporator, the condenser, and expansion valve, and the compressor.

With heat pumps, an external power source is used to move energy. These systems use outdoor heat that gets combined with electrical power and refrigerant so that the air can be warmed up before being distributed throughout the home. Simply put, these units work just like air conditioners do, but the process is reversed.

During the warmer months, however, heat pumps can also help cool your home down, a capability that makes heat pumps incredibly versatile.

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What A Furnace Is

A furnace is a heating system that’s either gas- or oil-fired to produce heat. It is sometimes referred to as a ducted, forced, warm-air distribution unit given that it uses a system of ductwork to distribute heated air to different areas of the building. The heated air is released into the living space via air registers or grills.

Furnaces require heat sources, like flames. Flames will warm the heat exchanger up so that heat can then be moved to the air. Once this happens, the air will be pushed by the furnace and effectively forced through the exchanger. Any potentially harmful byproducts of this combustion process are released from the home via the flue pipe.


The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Having A Heat Pump

Heat pumps require significantly less maintenance than other heating systems that are combustion-based. They will, however, require annual inspections. As long as heat pumps are well-maintained, these systems will remain functional and reliable. Heat pumps are additionally capable of converting energy into heat in a very efficient way, which helps to keep carbon emissions low.

These units additionally have cooling capabilities, which can make them quite useful in summer. Heat pumps can provide reliable performance for many years with the average expected lifespan for heat pumps ranging between 12 and 15 years.

As far as drawbacks go, heat pumps often have high upfront costs along with higher installation costs. Heat pumps tend to be far more difficult to install than the average furnace. Given that these units rely on electricity, heat pump installation can sometimes require special planning permissions.

Heat pumps are additionally vulnerable to damages resulting from extreme weather. They don’t perform very well in exceeding cold temperatures and thus, they can present issues for households living in areas with very cold weather. If you use a heat pump in your home, think about installing a backup heat source just in case the outside temperatures plummet.

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The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Having A Furnace In Your Home

If your home uses a furnace system, it likely runs on either gas or heating oil. Furnaces are relatively low in cost and fairly easy to install. The costs of replacing and repairing furnaces can be quite reasonable as well.

Furnaces warm up fast and this means that you may be able to save a considerable amount of money on power in the long run. These units produce heat in a constant and event way – which is a vital attribute during extremely cold winters.

As a drawback, however, a furnace system that’s gas-fueled can present various risks to your well-being and health. Among these risks are explosions, fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Electric furnaces consume large amounts of energy, which can really affect your budget.

Moreover, furnaces are only capable of providing heat. Unlike a heat pump, a furnace will not have the ability to generate or distribute cooled air. If your home needs cooling during the summer, you will have to have a separate air conditioner installed.

Given that furnaces move heated air with fans, they can be noisy. They can also distribute a number of allergens and particulates through the home if HVAC filters aren’t being replaced on a regular basis.

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house wrapped in scarf depicting home heating


You can effectively weigh your options for heating your home now that you understand the basic differences between heat pumps and furnaces. Take the structure and design of your home into consideration, as well as your short and long-term needs, and your budget. You can also call a local HVAC installation company to get answers to any questions that you might have along with guidance for finding the right option for your property. Professional advice will help eliminate any misconception that you have while ensuring that all of your goals and expectations are properly met.

Reach Out To Tower Energy With Your Home Heating And Cooling Concerns

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Tower Energy provides first-rate cooling and heating services throughout the region. Our technicians are NATE-certified and capable of providing superior installations, repairs, tune-ups, and full system replacements. They have sufficient skills, knowledge and work history for getting your project completed correctly and on time.

Tower Energy guarantees highly competitive pricing on all heating and cooling services. Should your home HVAC system need to be replaced, we can help you find the perfect option for your entire household and for your budget. We make indoor air quality, comfort, and energy-efficiency our top priorities. To get your free, in-home estimate or to set up an appointment, call Tower Energy right now.

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