Heat Pump Or Furnace? Your Deciding Guide

Your home can be heated by a heat pump or a furnace, although the method used is different, and a surprising number of homeowners don’t fully understand the difference.

A heat pump moves warm air throughout your home by extracting that air from the outside, while a furnace uses the process of combustion to heat your home. The climate you live in is typically one of the biggest deciding factors when it comes to choosing a heat pump or furnace to heat your home, although the amount of heat output and overall efficiency are also considerations.

You probably use a heat pump for HVAC in FL or southern Georgia, although if your home can’t access natural gas or it’s an older home, you may have a furnace. Most homeowners in this part of the country realize it generally isn’t worth buying a furnace as it just doesn’t stay cold for too long.

If you aren’t sure if a heat pump or furnace might be more suitable, this useful breakdown should help you to decide.

What is a Furnace?

A furnace blows air that is warmer than the air blown by a heat pump, because the heat is created by flames. Your home is heated by a fan and the fuel source, which is typically natural gas or oil. The hot air produced by the combustion chamber is then forced into your home via the ductwork.

The Department of Energy points out that the most popular source of heating in American homes is a furnace. However, in the warmer southeast of the country where winters are shorter and milder, more homes tend to rely on a heat pump to heat their home.

A furnace will generally last longer than a heat pump, doesn’t need as much maintenance and is less likely to break down, due to it having fewer mechanical parts. Homeowners who want warmer air or use natural gas often prefer a furnace, although they aren’t as energy efficient as a heat pump. You’ll need a separate air conditioning unit to cool your home if you have a furnace, although in recent years they have become more energy efficient.

What Is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump takes longer to warm your room as it draws in heat from the outside, and because of this it doesn’t need any fuel to generate the heat. You can also keep your home cool during the summer if you have a heat pump as it is able to work as an air conditioning unit too.

In order to draw warm air into your home rather than removing it, a heat pump can be seen as an air conditioner that reverses its refrigeration cycle. Basically, it’s your air conditioner working in reverse.

If your winters are short, a heat pump is probably a better option than a furnace. It costs less to install a heat pump, it isn’t as noisy as a furnace, and you’ll also enjoy better fuel efficiency than you would if you had a furnace.