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Heat Pump vs. Furnace: What’s the Best Heating System for Your Home?

A family of four sitting on the floor near a fireplace. They're looking at a tablet.

When winter rolls around, there’s no better feeling than hunkering down with some hot chocolate, a cozy blanket, and the heat blasting. If your heating system is nearing the end of its service life, you might have already started to think about replacement options. The excellent news is that there are many options available — including the ever-popular furnaces and heat pumps.

Now, you might be wondering: is a heat pump better than a furnace? When it comes down to it, the answer to the question will depend on your household’s specific needs. Although you might be tempted to rush through the process, you’ll want to consider many factors before you decide on a heating system replacement.

What’s the Difference Between a Heat Pump and a Furnace?

Before we can discuss if a heat pump is better than a furnace, you must have an understanding of how these systems differ.

In the simplest of terms, furnaces work by generating heat. These systems contain heat exchangers that do a majority of the work during the heating process. On the other hand, a heat pump works by pulling heat from the outdoors and transferring it indoors. Heat pumps can pull on various heat sources, including the air, ground, and water.

While furnaces can only be used to generate heat, heat pumps can be used to heat and cool a home. All-in-all, you can think of heat pumps as air conditioners and heating systems rolled into one.

It can also be helpful to know how long these units are known to last. Heat pumps tend to have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, while furnaces usually have a service life of 15 to 20 years. Of course, many factors can influence how long your heating system lasts, including whether or not you schedule annual heating maintenance.

Although they’re incredibly different from one another, there are many benefits to a heat pump vs. furnace — and vice versa. Let’s take a look at some of the factors you should consider before purchasing one of these systems for your home.

Think About Your Heating and Cooling Needs

If you want to know whether or not a heat pump is better than a furnace, take a look at your heating and cooling needs.

The HVAC systems in your home can last a long time, but they will eventually need to be replaced. If both your heating system and air conditioner seem like they’re about to kick the bucket, you might want to consider installing a heat pump system.

As we discussed above, heat pumps have dual heating and air conditioning capabilities. Instead of installing separate heating and cooling systems, which will be double the cost, you can install one unit as an alternative. Having only one HVAC system installed in your home can also lessen the burden when it comes to maintenance. Instead of maintaining two separate systems, you’ll only need to worry about one unit.

Despite the benefits heat pumps can have regarding their heating and cooling capabilities, you shouldn’t rule out furnaces just yet. If your air conditioner is fairly new or appears to be working fine, you might find that installing a furnace is the most practical option.

On a similar note, you might enjoy having a central air conditioning system and don’t want to replace it with a heat pump.

Consider Different Fuel Types

If you want to learn the key differences between a heat pump vs. furnace, it’s important to be familiar with their fuel sources. Why? The reason is simple: heat pumps run exclusively on electricity, while furnaces can have various fuel types.

There are many factors you will need to consider when choosing a furnace type for your home. For example, if you’re interested in a gas furnace, you’ll have to install gas lines on your property. This extra service can add to the upfront cost of your heating system.

How else do these furnace fuel types differ from one another? When it comes down to it, electric furnaces are known for needing the least amount of maintenance. It’s also worth mentioning that oil furnaces are believed to heat homes at a much quicker rate than their gas and electric counterparts. This quick heating is excellent news for homeowners that live in colder climates, like us.

As you can see, there are various considerations you’ll need to take before you choose a furnace, as there are various fuel types available. On the other hand, heat pumps run on electricity and electricity alone, so you don’t have to worry about weighing the pros and cons of various fuel sources.

Don’t Forget About Energy Efficiency

If you’re debating whether you should choose a heat pump vs. furnace for your home, it’s impossible not to mention energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is a serious deal for homeowners, as high energy efficiency can potentially lead to lower energy costs.

Now, you’re probably asking yourself: is a heat pump better than a furnace regarding energy efficiency? All-in-all, furnaces use more energy because they generate heat while heat pumps only transfer heat from one place to another.

Although heat pumps tend to use up less energy than furnaces, it’s difficult to say which heating system is more energy efficient than the other. For example, high-efficiency gas furnaces are usually toe-to-toe with heat pumps when it comes to their energy savings. The type of heat pump you choose — whether that’s geothermal, air-source, or water-source — can also affect how much energy you end up saving.

So yes — gas furnaces and heat pumps tend to have similar energy efficiency. However, you’ll also want to take your region into account. Most heat pumps have to work harder in cold climates, which can lead to them using more energy to get the job done to your satisfaction.

Install a High-Quality Heating System With Squeaks!

As you can see, there are many benefits of a heat pump vs. furnace — and vice versa. If you’re struggling to find the best type of heating system for your home, turn to Squeaks Family Safety & Home Protection!

We’re proud to offer many home heating services that you can count on during the coldest months of the year. Whether you need a heating system installation or gas line repair in Denver, CO, you can trust us to provide you with a top-tier solution.

Are you ready to upgrade your heating system? We can discuss installation costs, benefits, and options with you to help you find the best solution. Contact us to schedule a furnace installation in Boulder, CO, today!

A family of four sitting on the floor near a fireplace. They're looking at a tablet.

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