As winter rolls through the Pacific Northwest, many people are left wondering if their heat source is going to hold up this cold season. While gas furnaces are a popular heating choice in PNW homes, heat pumps and ductless mini-splits can also be good options for homeowners who wish to save on monthly energy bills or add air conditioning functionality.
Each heat option has its own set of pros and cons. Choosing between a gas furnace, electric furnace, mini split, or heat pump for your PNW home will depend on your space, environmental values, and wallet.
If you are looking to find the best kind of furnace for your home, you’re probably deciding between a gas and electric furnace. Many people who live in colder climates prefer gas furnaces because they tend to do better throughout harsh winters and are often more cost-efficient to use. Gas furnaces typically last an average of 20 years in a home before major issues arise.
Gas furnaces use forced air to heat a space. Heat is triggered by the thermostat in your home, which tells your furnace when the temperature in the room has fallen below the preset temperature. When it’s time to start up the furnace, the ignitor will ignite the main burner and begin heating your home.
Although a gas furnace can be a great heating system, if your ignitor is faulty or broken, it can become a carbon monoxide safety concern. For this reason, gas furnaces need more regular maintenance than other heat sources. They are also typically less efficient than other heating options in moderate climates.
Gas furnaces also have a pretty expensive and complicated installation process. In a 2,000 square foot home, you can expect a gas furnace to cost $4,500 to $6,000 on average.
Similar to gas furnaces, electric furnaces use forced air to heat your home. However, electric furnaces do not use a gas burner. Instead, when the signal to heat is sent to an electric furnace, the heat is powered by the electric heating elements inside. This makes electric furnaces a somewhat safer heating option overall.
Electric furnaces have a lifespan of about 30 years. They often work well in moderate climates and have a relatively easy installation process. In a 2,000 square foot home, you can expect an electric furnace to cost between $3,000 and $4,500.
When choosing the best kind of furnace for your home, it’s important to weigh the positives and the negatives. The main downside of an electric furnace is that it may be more expensive to run than a gas furnace, depending on the cost of electricity in your area. Electric furnaces also often take longer to heat up a home, depending on the unit.
A heat pump is a heating and cooling system that transfers heat between the home and outdoors to regulate the temperature of your home. In the winter, a heat pump will extract heat from the outdoors and move it into your home to heat the space.
This kind of heat exchange makes heat pumps extremely energy efficient in moderate climates because they typically move or “produce” more energy than they consume. Heat pumps also have a lower impact on the environment and produce fewer harmful emissions than most other heat sources, including gas furnaces.
Heat pumps work best in moderate climates, which makes a heat pump in the Pacific Northwest a great option. Unfortunately, once outdoor temperatures drop below freezing, heat pumps become less and less efficient at heating a home.
Heat pumps only last an average of about 15 years, but that’s mostly because they are used as air conditioners as well as heaters in climates with temperature extremes on both ends, so they get put to work throughout the entire year. If you live in the PNW and only use your heat pump during the colder months and on the hottest summer days, you will likely see your unit last much longer. Heat pumps typically cost more to install than a new furnace, but you will make up the cost over time with lower energy bills.
The best kind of heating system really comes down to preference. However, a heat pump in the Pacific Northwest may be the best option if you prioritize energy efficiency, air conditioning, or lowering your carbon footprint.
Ductless Mini Split
If your home doesn’t have air ducts, then a ductless mini split may be the best heating option for you. These units link individual rooms to an outdoor compressor, which then heats or cools your home.
One of the best things about ductless mini splits is that they give you a lot of control over the temperature in different parts of your home. These small units are controlled separately with remote controls, which makes it really easy to adjust the temperature for each room or area of your house. Mini splits are also considered to be extremely eco-friendly and are non-ozone depleting.
The price range to install a ductless mini split can vary widely. However, you can expect to spend between $3,500 to $8,500. Depending on how much you use your unit, a ductless mini split can last anywhere between 10 and 30 years.
Need Help Deciding Which Furnace Is For You?
Gas furnaces, electric furnaces, heat pumps, and ductless mini splits can all be good options for heating a PNW home. The decision ultimately comes down to the preferences of the homeowner.
While heat pumps and ductless mini splits are super energy efficient, gas and electric furnaces may be cheaper to install and provide more stable heat. Nevertheless, in many areas of the PNW, the mild climate is a great fit for a heat pump or ductless mini split. Since most heat pumps are designed to be attached to a furnace, we often see homeowners combining these two heat sources so they can enjoy the most efficient, consistent temperature control no matter how warm or cold it gets.
Paragon Heating and Home Comfort Solutions can help you install or maintain the heating system you choose. Our expert technicians service and install heat pumps, gas and electric furnaces, and ductless mini-splits in Everett, Lynnwood, Marysville, and beyond. Contact us if you have any questions about the best heating option for your home.