Heat Pumps vs. Gas Furnaces – 6 Things You Should Consider

If you are in the process of buying a new home, you may be considering various types of HVAC systems. And, depending on how interested you are in HVAC systems, it can be quite the rabbit hole. The same can be said of heating options. Two popular heating options for heating a home are the heat pump and a gas furnace. While very similar in a lot of ways, they also work in quite different ways; each with its own pros and cons. With that in mind, today we'll discuss 6 things you should consider about heat pumps vs. gas furnaces so you can decide which heating system is best for your home.

Heat Pumps vs. Gas Furnaces: Is one system better than the other? 

We get this question a lot, and with good reason. Every homeowner wants the "best" for their family, right? But when it comes to heat pumps vs. gas furnaces, there isn't really one system that is better than another, although you may choose one option over another based on your circumstances.

For example, while gas furnaces are very common, they aren't always the best way to heat a home, especially if you don't have gas lines leading into your house. So, if you're considering a home that relies on electricity to heat the home, you can assume that you will NOT have a gas furnace. The decision has already been made for you.

Gas furnaces are great for homes that use natural gas. They produce extremely hot heat, which means that your home can reach your ideal temperature setting pretty quick (or boil water), but can also cause cold spots around your home which can lead to dry skin. Gas furnaces also produce carbon monoxide (CO) which can be dangerous if not properly installed, monitored, or inspected regularly.

In contrast, we actually see a lot of electric heat pumps in our area since the winters are rather mild. Heat pumps tend to consume less energy and are usually more efficient than a furnace.

Heat Pumps vs. Gas Furnaces: Is a heat pump the same as an air conditioner?

Heat pumps and air conditioners work quite similarly, but they are NOT the same thing. Air conditioners take any hot air inside your home and pump it outside, while a heat pump converts the air outside into warm air for the inside of your home.

Heat pumps pull in warm air from outside, then move that air into an air handler located on the inside of your home. Air handlers have a coil and heat strips inside it, so as the air from outside moves over the coil, the air is heated. Then a fan inside the air handler blows that warm air through the vents of your home.

Heat Pumps vs. Gas Furnaces: Which one is more efficient?

We typically find that natural gas is less expensive than electricity, which tends to mean that a gas furnace is more cost-effective than an electric heat pump, especially during a really COLD winter. If we lived in an area that consistently had frigid temperatures, you wouldn't even see this question because a gas furnace would be the way to go since gas is cheaper than electricity.

However, gas furnaces aren't always more efficient than heat pumps, and if we have a mild winter, any savings you might expect from a gas furnace could be a wash.

Heat Pumps vs. Gas Furnaces: Which one is cheaper to install? 

Building on the previous point, in this part of the country, when it comes to determining which one is more efficient, it really depends. But which one is cheaper to install? The answer to this question is a little more straight forward.

The upfront costs associated with installing a heat pump are generally cheaper than the costs to install a gas furnace. For one, if you don't already have natural gas lines running to your home, you must have those lines install first before you can even think about installing a gas furnace. That alone can be quite expensive and a reason to install a heat pump instead.

Heat Pumps vs. Gas Furnaces:  Are there different types of heat pumps?

If you choose to go the electric heat pump route, there are three options to choose from: air-to-air, ductless mini-split, and geothermal.

Air-to-Air

An air-to-air heat pump is the most common type of heat pump we install. It works by moving the warm outside air to the inside of your home.

Ductless, Mini-Split

Ductless, mini-split heat pumps are similar to window air conditioner units. These are typically smaller air-source units with an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air-handling unit.

Geothermal

Finally, there are geothermal heat pumps. These use the warmth stored in the earth (50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit) to heat your home.

If you are considering installing a new heat pump, we'd be happy to discuss each of these options, and what makes the most sense for your type of home and heating needs.

Heat Pumps vs. Gas Furnaces: Which one produces more heat?

Gas furnaces absolutely produce more heat than a heat pump, but that reason alone is not a good enough reason to choose a gas furnace over a heat pump. In fact, all that hot air has a tendency to get so hot that it dries out your skin and waste energy. We still like them, but we wouldn't use this information alone to choose one over another.

Want to know more about heat pumps and gas furnaces? Give Choice HVAC a call at 919-435-2711. We'd be happy to come over and discuss your options.

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