Heat Pump vs. Furnace: Which is Right for Your Home?

The type of home heating system you choose will depend on a number of variables, one of the most important of which is climate. The weather in the area where you live — particularly if it involves extreme conditions — will pretty much dictate your options. While other factors also play a role, as we’ll see, one or more of these factors can sometimes offset, or even cancel out, another.

Climate: The Key Variable

Climate plays the most critical role in determining the better heating system for your home. A gas furnace typically delivers air that has been heated to a comfortable 120 degrees F, whereas a heat pump delivers air that’s been heated to a “cool” 95 degrees F. The reason for this considerable temperature difference is that, unlike furnaces, heat pumps don’t generate their own heat. They simply move heat that has been drawn from outside and release it inside your home, after compressing it to raise its temperature.

The Need for Backup Heat: A Major Determinant

The reason heat pumps work better in moderate climates is that the lower the outdoor temperature, the less heat the pump can transfer indoors to warm your home. That’s why these units are equipped with backup heat, which can be set by your HVAC technician to come on at a specific predetermined temperature. This backup system can prevent the outdoor unit from freezing, while enabling the system to maintain a more comfortable and consistent indoor temperature during extreme cold. However, while these units are highly efficient and extremely cost-effective in their normal mode, because they are powered by electricity, their backup heat, which is less-efficient, can raise the cost of operation significantly, canceling out any previous energy efficiency gains. This is one reason people who live in colder climates often opt for using a furnace instead of — or in addition to — a pump system.

The Dual-Fuel System: A Viable Cold-Climate Alternative

A dual-fuel system uses a gas furnace to supplement the heat of your electric pump setup, helping you avoid the high cost of electric backup heat. In areas like Mooresville NC, where temperatures can dip below freezing yet are not as extreme as those in many other parts of the U.S., this can be a viable option. However, many modern pump systems are capable of handling Mooresville NC winters without requiring a supplemental source of heat — particularly when you follow a few wise practices to help them along.

Maximizing Your System’s Effectiveness

If you prefer the double benefit of a single unit that provides heat in winter and cooling in summer, a heat pump may be the system for you. To get the most from your unit, try these tips to optimize your system’s efficiency and increase its effectiveness:

  • Winterize your home, sealing warm air in and cold air out.
  • Insulate your attic and basement.
  • Have your ductwork inspected, cleaned, and sealed, if needed.
  • Buy the right size pump for your needs. We can help.
  • To save money, ask your All Temp Air Conditioning and Heating technician about setting your pump’s backup heat to kick on at a lower temperature.

The pros at All Temp Company are happy to explain your options for selecting the right source of winter heat for your home.

Tags: , , , , ,