Should You Replace Your Furnace with a Heat Pump?

If your furnace is coming to the end of its lifespan, you may be looking at your heating options. Should you stick with a furnace for heat, or would a heat pump be a better option? Which is better depends on where you live and your preferences. Here are some of the basics about heat pumps and when they can be a better choice than furnaces for heat.

Efficient Source of Heat

Heat pumps are usually more energy efficient than most furnaces. They use electricity for energy, while many furnaces use oil or gas. Your monthly heating bills can be less.

Great for Mild Climates

Heat pumps are great for heating in mild climates but are not a good choice for areas that have cold winters. Since they rely on pulling heat from the air, they may not be able to maintain a comfortable temperature when the outside air drops below freezing consistently. Furnaces are a better choice for cold climates.

Cooling During the Summer

Heat pumps work as a heating and cooling system in one. You can replace a furnace and air conditioning unit with a heat pump for year-round climate control.

Quiet, Safe Heating

Heat pumps tend to run quieter and can be safer than a gas furnace. You do not need to worry about gas leaks that can cause carbon monoxide poisoning or explosions in your home.

If you live in a region that has mild winters, a heat pump may be a good choice for replacing your old furnace. Discuss the benefits with your local HVAC service company to determine whether a heat pump is right for your home.

Posted on behalf of:
Western Aire Heating & Cooling
264 Buchanan Highway
Dallas, GA 30157
(770) 505-7426

Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps

Are you considering updating your heating system in your home? If a heat pump is on your list of options, it is important to know the benefits and disadvantages of this system of heating and cooling. Heat pumps are very popular in mild climates, but don’t work as well in climates with more dramatic season changes. Here are some of the pros and cons of owning a heat pump for your climate control needs.

Heat Pump Pros

The reason heat pumps are common in mild climates is that they use the outdoor air to generate heat or to cool the air. Mild air temperatures are easier for a heat pump to be efficient, especially when generating heat. Here are the pros of using a heat pump:

  • Efficiency. Heat pumps tend to be more energy efficient than furnaces. They can quickly convert air to heat using minimal amounts of electricity, often saving money on heating your home.
  • Heating and cooling. Heat pumps heat and cool the home, providing comfort in both the winter and summer months.
  • No fumes. While furnaces create dangerous fumes that need to be ventilated out of the home, heat pumps do not create carbon monoxide or other hazardous fumes.

Heat Pump Cons

While heat pumps are efficient, safe and convenient, they are not the best heating source for all climates. Here are a few of the cons of heat pumps:

  • Cold climates. If the outside temperatures consistently are below 40 degrees, heat pumps may have trouble heating to comfortable levels.
  • Electricity costs. In areas where electricity rates are high, the cost for using a heat pump versus a furnace may be more, especially if it is colder during the winter.

If you are still not sure if a heat pump is the best option for heating your home, talk to your local HVAC service company. They can discuss the benefits of all heat sources for your area and help you find the best one for your needs.

Posted on behalf of:
ClimateSmith, LLC
5950 Shiloh Road East
Alpharetta, GA 30005
(770) 475-9555

Disadvantages of Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are quickly becoming the residential heating and cooling system of choice for many homeowners due to their excellent efficiency and low cost of operation.  However, before you commit to the cost of a new heat pump system, be sure that a heat pump is right for you and your family.  Energy efficiency should not be the only criteria for choosing a home heating system and heat pumps have a few drawbacks that make them less appealing for some homeowners.

First, heat pumps are not very effective heating systems when temperatures drop below freezing.  If you live in a climate that regularly sees extended periods with temperatures below freezing, consider combining a heat pump with another heating source such as a traditional furnace.

Next, the warm air coming from your vents will not feel as warm as what you may be used to with a furnace.  Heat pumps are designed to run for longer periods of time while delivering warm air rather than delivering hot air for shorter periods of time like a traditional furnace.  Once you get used to the slightly cooler temperature of the warm air blowing from your registers, you will appreciate that this is actually a plus for heat pumps, not a negative.  With a heat pump, the temperature in your home will remain more constant and will not fluctuate as much as it does with a furnace.

Finally, some homeowners are concerned that since a heat pump handles both the heating and cooling function, it runs throughout the year and may wear out sooner than a traditional furnace.  There may be some truth to this notion, but a good quality, well maintained heat pump can be expected to give good service for about 15 to 20 years.  By the time the heat pump wears out, advancements in energy efficiency will probably warrant replacing the system in any event.

Heat Pump Negatives

Heat Pumps are an energy efficient way to heat and cool your home.  Heat pumps operate just like a central air conditioning system to cool you home and work in reverse to heat your heat.  Because a heat pump uses electricity to move heat instead of creating heat, it can operate more efficiently and less expensively than most furnaces.

However, heat pumps do have a few drawbacks to consider before you make the investment in a new system.  The main concern about a heat pump is that its ability to heat efficiently is reduced at lower temperatures.  This used to be a bigger problem than it is today.  Advances in heat pump technology have made heat pumps effective and efficient in temperatures around freezing.

They can also heat your home in occasional periods of below freezing temperatures, but they lose some of their efficiency advantage. Supplemental electric heating elements can be added to a heat pump to help in these occasional low temperatures, but when operating in supplemental heat mode a heat pump loses most of its efficiency advantage.

If you live in an area that gets consistent and sustained temperatures below freezing, a heat pump may not be the best choice for winter home heating.  However, some homeowners use a heat pump for summer air conditioning and energy efficient spring and fall heating before turning on the furnace for heating during the coldest months.

Since heat pumps handle both heating and cooling, they run throughout the year which leads to concerns that they may wear out sooner than separate air conditioning and heating units.  This is probably true, however they last so long that the problem is negligible.  After 15 to 20 years of service, it is probably time to be shopping for a newer, more efficient system anyway.

A reputable local HVAC contractor who handles heat pump installation and repair can install a great new energy efficient heat pump in your home.