Furnaces are the most common type of heating system in the country, and by a pretty wide margin at that. There are many reasons for this popularity, including versatility and cost. However, being popular does not necessarily mean that a furnace is the best option for everybody. Heat pumps have been gaining in popularity among home owners for their energy efficiency and safer operation. So, should you replace your furnace with a heat pump? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each system and see if that can make your choice easier.
As mentioned above, furnaces are the most popular type of heating system largely because of their versatility and cost effectiveness. There are many different kinds of furnaces available, from electric to natural gas to wood, making it easier for homeowners to find one that fits their needs. Due to their widespread availability, furnaces are also relatively cheap to install and fix, compared to more rare systems.
The downside to furnaces is that they aren’t that energy efficient. A furnace burning natural gas, which is the most common fuel type for furnaces, tends to lose a lot of heat to various factors like duct leaks and combustion gases. Many furnaces still use standing pilot lights, as well, which constantly burn fuel in to stay lit. These cons lead to a lot of wasted energy and money.
Heat pumps are non-combustion heating systems. They don’t burn any kind of fuel to create heat, and only require electricity to run. They don’t use heating coils either, as electric furnaces do. Instead, a heat pump moves heat from one place to another by evaporating and condensing refrigerant. By siphoning heat from the outside air and releasing it inside, the heat pump saves a great deal of energy that would otherwise be spent on combusting fuel.
However, heat pumps do have one big drawback. In areas where the temperature frequently dips below zero, there is not as much thermal energy in the air for the heat pump to draw on. This leads to a decrease in the heat pump’s energy efficiency, as it has to work longer to heat the same amount of space.