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Heat Pump vs Furnace: Everything You Need to Know

two air source heat pumps

If you're a homeowner, something you should know is the difference between a furnace and a heat pump. Both are used to heat your house, but they differ in various ways. When choosing a heating unit, you will need to know which one suits your needs and the advantages of each. A heat pump is a cooling and heating system that draws in cold air or heat from outside and transfers it indoors. Mini-split installation requires an indoor air-handling unit and an outdoor compressor unit. A furnace takes in cold air that is passed through a heat exchanger and releases the air into the indoor environment.

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Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps and Furnaces

Appearance

Heat pumps are large stand-alone units outside your home that are easy to notice. The multi-zone mini split also requires hanging large machines inside the home. A furnace is more aesthetically pleasing because it is installed out of sight in areas such as utility rooms, furnaces, or basements. This helps free up space in the backyard, especially if your home has a smaller backyard.

Installation

Heat pumps are usually cheaper to install than furnaces. The monthly energy bill for heat pumps is also significantly less than that of a furnace. There are two types of heat pumps: geothermal and air-to-air. Air-to-air is the least expensive and simplest to use as it gets heat from the surrounding air. Geothermal variants use underground pipes that take advantage of the natural heat below ground level. Geothermal heat pumps are more expensive than air-to-air models because they require drilling.

An electric furnace is slightly cheaper to install than a gas furnace because of the running gas lines required to be installed. Both heat pumps and furnaces only need a few hours to complete installation. Depending on the type, both installations may require you to deal with electric connections, a natural gas line, or other fuels. An installation should be performed by a professional.

Maintenance

Heat pumps require more maintenance than furnaces. You should clean the coils regularly, change the air filters monthly, clear ice and snow around the pumps during winter, and clear debris around the heat pump. Doing this will ensure the efficient running of the system. Maintenance of a furnace is simple. Regular vacuuming and filter changes will ensure the furnace runs efficiently.

Efficiency

Heat pumps move heat from one area to another by consuming little energy. During the winter, the cold weather means the heat pump needs to use much more energy to generate heat, making it less efficient. Furnaces utilize energy sources, such as electricity, oil, propane, or natural gases, to generate heat. The most efficient option is natural gas. A furnace would be more efficient during winter than a heat pump because it generates its own heat.

Durability

With regular maintenance and replacement of parts, such as refrigerants and pumps, heat pumps could last up to 15 years. Furnaces can last up to 20 years but require regular maintenance and parts can be quite expensive to replace. 

woman adjusting temperature

Benefits of Ductless Systems

Ductless cooling and heating systems from ComfortUp are gaining popularity due to their various advantages. Since there are no ducts, these units are easier to install. Using a few discreet and small holes, the flexible piping runs between the indoor air handlers and the outdoor unit. The outdoor unit is small enough to be placed on ledges, roofs, or alleyways. The indoor units are also discreet and small.

If you're not sure if you need a single or multi-zone mini split, you’ll have to consider how many rooms you’ll be heating and cooling. They’re typically great for additions to rooms in your house without a central cooling and heating system, such as basements, attics, and other additions. A central controller allows you to control each zone remotely. You can also control each zone with its own controller. You can track your energy consumption by zones making it easier to track usage from area to area. ComfortUp ductless systems improve indoor air quality because the filtration system gets rid of small particulates and pollutants before releasing the door indoors. Despite the size and location, these systems are also quiet when running.

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Final Thoughts

Choosing between a furnace and a heat pump comes down to the consumer. If you live in warmer climates, you will find the heat pump a better option due to its efficiency. However, if you reside in colder areas, you will find a furnace more efficient, especially if you have access to natural gas.

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