Does Your Home Have a Furnace?
Does your home have a furnace? That might seem like a silly question since virtually every home has a heating and cooling source of some kind. We generally think of having an air conditioner to cool our home in the summer and a furnace to warm our home in the winter. But is that really the case in your home?
In our area of the country (the Southeast), it is just as common for our homes to have a heat pump which combines heating and cooling functions as opposed to a separate air conditioning and heating unit.
Heat Pumps and Furnaces
Most people are more familiar with furnaces than heat pumps. A furnace generates heat in a traditional way by burning oil or natural gas and sending the resulting heat into the home. Furnaces can also be powered by electricity.
Heat pumps don’t generate heat from a fuel source. Instead, they use electricity and refrigerant to transfer heat from outdoor air to the inside. Essentially, when in heating mode, heat pumps work like an air conditioner in reverse. In fact, they even double as an air conditioner in the summer when in cooling mode.
Furnace vs. Heat Pump Efficiency
Older furnaces were notorious for being inefficient, but new technology has resulted in impressive rates of up to 98 percent efficient. This means only 2 percent of the fuel burned escapes with combustion fumes when they’re vented to the exterior.
Because heat pumps move heat with electricity, they can be upwards of 300 percent efficient, using only one unit of electricity to move three units of heat energy. As you might imagine, performance suffers as it gets colder outside. This requires heat pumps to come with a less efficient backup heat source for when the temperature falls below freezing.
Heat Pump vs. Furnace: Which is the Best Choice?
A traditional furnace could be the best choice if you have access to natural gas. It also makes sense to choose a furnace if you recently installed a new air conditioner and don’t want to deal with adding a backup heat source.
Heat pump installation may be a better choice if you have no natural gas lines leading to your home. Electricity tends to be more expensive than natural gas, but because heat pumps work so efficiently, you’ll save money with an electric heat pump compared to an electric furnace. It’s also the more cost-effective option if you’re thinking of replacing your air conditioner as well, since the heat pump can replace this equipment.
If you would like more information about heating or cooling your home, or if you are in need of a new heating and cooling system, please feel free to contact us at [email protected]. Garrison and Garrison Heating and Air is a licensed and insured heating and air conditioning contractor located in Huntsville, AL. We have served Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley for more than 45 years.