Which Is Better For Your Home: Heat Pump Vs Furnace?

Which Is Better For Your Home: Heat Pump Vs Furnace?

Anthony Barnes

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Everyone wants to be warm in their own home.

There’s nothing worse than coming home after a long day at work and being cold, meaning that you can’t relax and that you stay on edge.

However, there are lots of different heating services and appliances that can help you to feel comfortable in your safe space when you arrive at your house. 

The two different heating systems that we’ll be looking at today are the heat pump and the furnace.

We’ll look at the pros and cons for each one and we’ll hopefully help you to make the right decision on which suits you and your home best.

There are no real right or wrong answers, it all comes down to your personal preference and what you desire.

Because heat pumps and furnaces come in all different sorts of shapes and sizes, you can expect to find one that could feature in your home pretty soon!

What Is A Heat Pump?

A heat pump is an appliance that uses electricity to transfer heat from outside air into your home.

It works by using a refrigerant that absorbs heat from the surrounding air and then transfers this heat back into your home. 

The heat pump will also use a fan to circulate the air around your home so that it stays nice and cool.

This means that you don’t have to worry about turning up the thermostat as much because the heat pump does most of the hard work for you.

When you think of heat pumps, they often conjure images of big bulky units with huge fans that are placed out in the garden.

However, these days there are many more compact models available that fit neatly inside your kitchen cupboards or even in other rooms around the house to keep you warm.

What Is A Furnace?

Furnaces are another popular way to provide warmth in your home. They work by burning fuel such as gas or oil to create heat.

Once the heat has been generated, it circulates through your home via ducts and radiators. 

These radiators will distribute the heat throughout your home.

You may notice that some homes have large central heating boilers while others have smaller ones that are used in conjunction with the radiator system.

There are many different types of furnaces available on the market including electric, natural gas, propane, and wood-burning.

Each type of furnace has its advantages and disadvantages. Electric furnaces tend to be cheaper but they aren’t very efficient.

Natural gas furnaces are more expensive but they are highly efficient.

Wood-burning furnaces are the most environmentally friendly option but they are also the most expensive.

How Do Heat Pumps Work?

Heat pumps are great because they allow you to control how much heat gets into your home.

They do this by transferring heat from outside air into the room where you want to be warmer. This process happens automatically without any input from you.

When you turn the heat pump off, it stops absorbing heat from the outside air and starts circulating the air around your home instead.

This means that you can choose whether you want to open the windows or not.

If you decide to leave them closed, the heat pump will continue to absorb heat from the outside air until it reaches a certain temperature.

At this point, the heat pump will start to release the heat into your home. As the heat is released, it will gradually get colder.

However, if you decide to open the windows, the heat pump won’t be able to take in any heat from the outside air.

Instead, it will start working harder to try and maintain the same temperature within your home, which can cost you more money in the long run.

How Do Furnaces Work?

A furnace is similar to a heat pump in that it allows you to control how much energy gets into your home. However, a furnace burns fuel such as gas or coal to generate heat.

Once the heat is generated, it circulates your home via ducts. This is why some people call them ‘ducted systems.’

The main difference between a heat pump and a furnace is that a heat pump doesn’t need to burn fuel to produce heat.

It can make more sense financially to use a heat pump rather than a furnace.

Pros Of Using A Heat Pump

It Saves You Money!

Because of their ability to save you money, heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular.

Many homeowners find that they pay less for electricity when using a heat pump compared to a traditional furnace and will notice the difference in their bills.

It Keeps Your Home Comfortable All Year Round

Unlike a furnace, a heat pump doesn‘t require you to purchase additional fuel during the winter months.

Because of this, it can help keep your home warm all year round, depending on how much you’re willing to spend.

It Uses Less Space

Traditionally, heat pumps don‘t require a lot of space so you can place one anywhere in your home.

This makes them ideal for small apartments and houses where space is at a premium.

On top of this, they tend to fit in nicely with the rest of the room’s decor, depending on the design you choose.

It’s Eco-Friendly

Using a heat pump helps reduce your carbon footprint. Unlike a furnace, a heat pump doesn’t have to burn fuel to create heat, meaning it uses significantly fewer fossil fuels.

Cons Of Using A Heat Pump

Cons Of Using A Heat Pump

It Costs More Than Traditional Systems

Depending on the size of your home, a heat pump (see also ‘How Big Is A Heating Pump And What Size Do I Need?‘) can cost up to $1000 more than a traditional system.

This is because a heat pump requires an extra piece of equipment called an evaporator coil.

The reason for this is that the heat pump needs to work harder to transfer heat from outside air into your home.

It Can Be Difficult To Install

Although heat pumps are relatively simple to install, there may be times when you’ll need to hire a professional installer.

This is especially true if you live in a remote location or if you’ve never installed anything like this before.

It May Not Fit Into Existing Ductwork

If you already have existing ductwork in your home, then installing a new heating system could mean having to replace it.

Although most manufacturers offer a range of options that will allow you to integrate a heat pump into your existing ductwork, this isn’t always possible.

Sometimes it’s best to seek professional help.

Pros Of Using A Furnace

It Works Well During Winter Months

Furnaces aren’t just used to heat homes during the summer months.

They also provide warmth during the winter months, which is the main time you’d need one of these appliances.

If you want to ensure your home stays warm throughout the colder seasons, then a furnace is the way to go.

It Doesn’t Require Fuel

Unlike a heat pump, a furnace doesn’t require any kind of fuel to function. This means that you won’t have to worry about purchasing expensive fuel every month.

However, you will need some sort of coal, electricity, or wood.

It Has Long Lifespan

A furnace has a lifespan of 15 years whereas a heat pump only lasts 10 years.

This means that over time, a furnace will become obsolete while a heat pump (see also ‘Heat Pump Vs Air Conditioner‘) still works perfectly fine.

It Keeps You Warm All Year Round

A furnace ensures that you stay warm all year round.

Even though you might not use it as often as you do a heat pump, a heater will make sure that your house remains warm no matter what the weather is doing outside.

Cons Of Using A Furnace

It Needs Regular Maintenance

As previously mentioned, a furnace has a much longer lifespan than a heat pump. Because of this, it needs regular maintenance to keep working properly.

If you neglect your furnace, you risk damaging it permanently. We recommend keeping a close eye on your furnace to minimize the risk of making fixes.

It’s Expensive

The upfront costs of a furnace can be very high. Depending on how old your current furnace is, you could pay around $3500 – $5000 for installation.

After this, you’ll likely spend at least $100 per year on gas/electricity bills, depending on how often you use the device.

It Can Cause Smoke Damage

Some furnaces emit smoke that causes damage to walls and ceilings. This is why many people prefer to install a heat pump instead.

You need to make sure that the smoke ventilation system works perfectly or you might notice your furnace will be causing more problems than good.

How Often Should I Check My Heat Pump For Maintenance?

You should check your heat pump for maintenance once every 6-12 months.

The first thing you should do is turn off your unit and open up the vents so that air can circulate freely through the system.

Then, take out each removable component and inspect them thoroughly. Make sure that everything looks clean and shiny.

Also, check that the fan blades are turning smoothly and that they’re not clogged with dust, otherwise it’ll struggle to hit its full capacity.

How Often Should I Check My Furnace For Maintenance?

It’s recommended that you check your furnace for maintenance twice annually.

As soon as you get your heating bill, you should look into whether there are any leaks in the pipes or if there are any cracks in the casing.

These things can cause serious issues if left unattended. It’s always good to turn it on and see if there’s any smoke leaking from the ventilation system.

This will prevent smoke stains and odors throughout your home.

Final Thoughts

There you go! Everything you might need to know about furnaces and heat pumps to make sure that you know which one to install in your home.

Both will make sure that you keep warm, especially during the colder months, however, they work differently.

By inspecting the sizes, the way they work, and the different pros and cons of each of these devices, we’re hoping that you’ll find the appliance that’s perfect for you.

Ultimately, you know your home better than anyone else, so you should know exactly which of these appliances will suit you and your house best.

As we said earlier, there’s nothing worse than coming home to a freezing cold house. So have a look online or at your local heating store and browse some of the products.

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age