Heat Pump vs. Furnace

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Children's feet warming at a fireplace sitting down in living room in Cedar Park, TX, trying to figure out heat pump vs. furnace.

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Looking to install a new heater in your home? The two most common choices in Cedar Park, TX, are a heat pump and a furnace. But which one to choose? If you have natural gas or propane furnace it will be most cost effective to replace your furnace. If your home is all electric, a heat pump will be the most efficient source of heat for you.

Call one of our HVAC professionals any time at BlueAir to help you make your best decision.

Heat Pump

The short version of how a heat pump works is that it transfers heat from one area to another. It works the same as an air conditioner does, but in reverse. A heat pump doesn’t actually create heat, it draws heat in and moves it around. It’s also an air conditioner, so you pretty much get two for one with a heat pump. Here are its pros and cons.

Pros

  • Runs cleaner. A heat pump heats with electricity, so it’s a cleaner source of energy than gas or oil. It can create one-and-a-half to three times more energy than it uses.
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  • Can be safer. With a heat pump running on electricity, there’s no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or gas explosions.
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  • Can provide both heating and cooling. This can be both convenient and cost-effective in the right home. No added components or elements.

Cons

  • More expensive to run than a gas furnace. Since a heat pump runs entirely on electricity, it can be more expensive to run since electricity’s generally higher in price than gas or oil. But this depends on current fuel costs.
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  • Has to switch to heat strips to heat effectively on very cold days. If the temperature drops below 35 degrees or so, a heat pump doesn’t heat effectively so you will need to switch your thermostat to emergency heat. Emergency heat provides heat through electric heat strips. All electric heat strips are more expensive to run. Luckily in the Cedar Park area we don’t get to many cold days so most of the time you get the advantage of lower operating costs when it is heating in heat pump mode.
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  • Has shorter lifespan. A heat pump has a projected lifespan of fifteen to twenty years, while a furnace has a twenty-to-thirty-year lifespan. A heat pump suffers more wear and tear as well, since it runs year round, as opposed to a furnace that typically runs only a few months a year. This could result in more frequent repairs besides the shorter lifespan.

Furnace

The short version of how a furnace works is that it uses a fuel source such as natural gas or propane to create heat, and then its fan blows the heat to different areas of your home. Here are its pros and cons.

Pros

  • Has longer lifespan. Running only a few months of the year, a furnace’s lifespan is longer than a heat pump’s. Most furnaces nowadays can last twenty to thirty years.
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  • Has less maintenance. Since a furnace is only used a few months a year, the wear and tear is less, resulting in less repairs with proper annual maintenance.
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  • Works in all temperatures. Furnaces provide a nice warm heat no matter how cold the temperature outside.

Cons

  • Can’t cool air. Since a furnace can only heat air, unlike a heat pump, you would need to make an additional investment in an air conditioner with a furnace.
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  • Not as safe. Any time there’s gas or oil involved, there’s an inherent safety risk of fire or an explosion. With gas, there’s always the issue of a carbon monoxide leak.
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  • Not as environmentally friendly to run. Gas and oil don’t burn as efficiently as electricity. Their burning produces toxic gases released into the environment.

Contact Us

Whether you need a new heat pump or furnace, consult with any of our BlueAir professionals at 512-257-8423, and we can help you choose the best equipment option for your home.

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