Has the time come to choose a new heating system for your home? Chances are, you will need to decide between a furnace and a heat pump. Almost all American homes use one of these two systems, and while both work well they also have many differences. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each system will help you to choose the very best heating equipment for your home.
Fuel And Power
Furnaces get their energy from either electricity or fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil or propane. Urban homes use electricity or natural gas (provided by utility companies), while homeowners outside the utility supply range may opt for tanks of oil or propane. Any kind of fuel-based furnace comes with a small risk of carbon monoxide exposure and of fuel ignition resulting in a fire or explosion.
Heat pumps run on standard residential electrical power. Since they do not run on fuel, they produce no carbon monoxide (which is a byproduct of fuel combustion) and have no risk of ignition.
How They Work
Furnace systems use thermostats to detect the indoor temperature of a home and turn the furnace on the temperature falls below a set level. The system either turns on or ignites to produce heat, and fans blow the heat through the ductwork system of the house and out the vents.
Heat pumps heat or cool homes by transferring refrigerant between two sets of copper coils, one indoors and one outdoors. To heat a home, the refrigerant is evaporated in the outdoor coils and transferred to the indoor unit. The refrigerant condenses as it travels, releasing heat into the home.
Energy And Cost Efficiency
Both furnace and heat pumps systems can be very energy and cost efficient. However, in general, heat pumps systems are a bit more economical and energy efficient than furnaces.
Heat pump efficiency is measured by the Heating seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF). The minimum rating a heat pump must meet is 7.7, and a system with an 8.2 rating or higher is considered high-efficiency. Some heat pumps have a rating as high as 9.35.
The efficiency of a furnace is measured by its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) number. The number corresponds to the percentage of fuel energy that is transformed into heat. Fossil fuel furnaces must have a minimum AFUE of 78, and high-efficiency systems often have an AFUE number of 90 or higher. Electric furnaces boast average numbers of 95 or higher; however, the cost of running an electric furnace is generally a bit higher than the cost of running a natural gas furnace.
Both furnaces and heat pumps can run in any climate, but heat pump efficiency drops significantly when temperatures fall below freezing. When heat pumps can no longer extract heat from the outside air, they switch to back-up electric coils, which drastically inflate the cost of running the system.
Home Heating Experts
If you’re looking for help choosing the right heating system for your home, our experts at MightyServ are here for you! Call us now to set up an appointment with one of our home heating experts.