Last updated on May 5th, 2022 at 09:06 pm

Whether you are building a new home or upgrading your HVAC system in your current home, you will notice that heating and air conditioning companies offer several options when it comes to home heating. Furnaces and heat pumps both work to heat your home, however, they function very differently. Additionally, there are different types of systems within each respective category. Here are the differences between heat pumps and furnaces along with some things to consider when choosing the heating system for your home.

How Heat Pumps Work

Heat pumps move heat, rather than generating it. They use electricity and refrigerant to transfer heat from the air outside into the home. Basically, they work just as an air conditioner does, but in reverse. In fact, during warmer months they can be used in a cooling mode as an air conditioner.

Pros of Heat Pumps

In temperate climates, heat pumps are extremely efficient. Additionally, they perform both heating and cooling functions.

Cons of Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are less efficient in cold climates that experience temperatures that drop below freezing for extended periods during the winter months. In these cases, they require a backup heat source and work well in conjunction with a furnace.

How Furnaces Work

A furnace burns fuel to generate energy to heat the home. A natural gas-powered furnace is most common, however, there are also electric options. Older furnaces are historically inefficient. However, the new versions have progressed and several companies offer high-efficiency natural gas options and electric options.

Furnace Pros

If your home has access to natural gas, a gas furnace can be more cost-effective than a heat pump or electric furnace, during cold winter months. New gas furnaces can be up to 98% efficient in heating your home. Furnace’s provide the best option for heating in cold winters.

Furnace Cons

If you want air conditioning in your home, you will need an additional unit. The cost of natural gas fluctuates, so depending on your level of usage, an electric furnace or heat pump may be a more cost-effective option.

Heat Pump and Furnace Maintenance

Luckily, if you are upgrading your heating system you can rest assured that your new system will be more effective and efficient than its outdated predecessor. Regardless of whether a heat pump or furnace is the best option for your home, there are two ways to ensure that your new system functions efficiently over the years. First, it is important to look into the maintenance required for your new system. Oftentimes, HVAC companies offer annual maintenance plans for new systems. Second, your heating and air conditioning expert will be able to inform you of any warranties that apply to your new system.

Heat Pump vs. Furnace: In Summary

A furnace generates heat either by burning fuel or using electricity to warm the home. In contrast, a heat pump moves heat from the outdoors into your home using electricity and refrigerant, which makes it much more efficient in moderate climates. A furnace can only be used to heat, while a heat pump can be used in reverse as an air conditioner. 

Heat pumps become less efficient in sub-freezing weather. If you choose a heat pump as a primary heat source, you may still need to use your furnace for backup heating on the coldest days.

Get an Expert Recommendation

Choosing between a heat pump and a furnace depends greatly on the climate you live in and your desires for heating and cooling your home year-round. For an expert recommendation for your home and budget, contact Paragon Heating and Home Comfort Solutions.