Heat pumps and furnaces are two very different types of heating systems. Both are used to keep a home warm during colder months but it’s important to understand the key differences if you are looking to get a new heating system in your home.
Heat pumps use electricity to circulate air and draw heat from either the outside air or the ground, depending on the model. Furnaces on the other hand generate heat by burning fuel such as gas, oil, or wood pellets. They use circulating fans to move heated air through a home’s ductwork.
Both heat pumps and furnaces are commonly used in the US and here in Alabama. They both provide effective heating solutions when temperatures dip, but there are key differences that should be considered when deciding which system is best for your home.
So today we are going to explore the pros and cons of a heat pump versus a furnace.
Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps
Heat pumps use electricity to move warm air around the home. They don’t generate heat but rather transfer heat. They can get heat from outside or from the ground. Heat pumps are energy efficient and can be used in many different places.
The Pros of Heat Pumps
The biggest advantage of a heat pump is its energy efficiency compared to a furnace. Heat pumps can be up to 400% more efficient than other heating systems, making them an economical choice for your home.
One of the greatest advantages of a heat pump is its dual function capabilities. Not only does it provide warmth during the colder months, but it also works as an air conditioner in the summer. This means you can use one system for your home all year round, saving money on additional cooling or heating systems.
Another benefit of using a heat pump is that it’s much safer than a furnace. Heat pumps don’t produce any hazardous fumes and they don’t require burning fuel, so there’s no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or gas leaks. This makes it ideal for homes with small children or pets.
The Cons of Heat Pumps
Now let’s talk about some drawbacks of having a heat pump.
One of the major drawbacks is their cost. While heat pumps can be more energy efficient than furnaces and other heating systems, they also tend to be more expensive. Depending on the size of your home and the type of heat pump you choose, installation costs can range from $4000 to $8000. With the national average around $5,500.
In addition, heat pumps tend to struggle to maintain comfortable temperatures in extreme cold weather conditions. In temperatures below 20 – 30°F, the efficiency of a heat pump drops significantly, making it less effective at keeping your home warm in colder climates. They are generally best for 40°F and above. This is because when air temperatures drop, there’s less warm air for the system to draw from outside.
For this reason, many people who live in cold climates opt for a furnace as their primary source of warmth instead.
Finally, although heat pumps do last for an average of 10-15 years before needing to be replaced, this is less than the average life span of a furnace, which can last up to 20 years.
Alright now that we discussed the pros and cons of heat pumps let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a furnace.
Pros and Cons of Furnaces
Furnaces are a type of heating system that uses fuel to generate warmth. They use circulating fans to move warm air throughout the home’s ductwork and can be powered by oil, propane, natural gas, or wood pellets.
Much different than the way that heat pumps work. With that being said, let’s look at the pros of a new furnace.
The Pros of Furnaces
One of the major benefits of furnaces is their ability to provide consistent and reliable heat in colder climates. Unlike heat pumps, furnaces don’t struggle to maintain comfortable temperatures in low temperature conditions. This makes them ideal for people living in colder climates where temperatures regularly dip below 20°F.
Another benefit of having a furnace is that they can often be more cost effective than other heating systems such as heat pumps. While installation costs may vary depending on the type of system you choose, furnaces tend to be more economical for homeowners. The average cost of installing a new furnace is $4,500. The typical price can range between $1,500 and $7,000.
With that being said, depending on where you live can drastically change the price of your furnace. Here in Alabama, you can expect to pay between $1,300 to $1,700 for a new furnace.
Furnaces also tend to have a longer lifespan than other heating systems. While a heat pump typically lasts 10-15 years, the average furnace can last up to 20 years with proper maintenance and care. This means that you will be able to get more use out of your system before needing to replace it.
The Cons of Furnaces
Now let’s talk about some drawbacks of having a furnace in your home.
One major disadvantage is that they are powered by fuel which can be expensive if not properly managed. Depending on the type of fuel you choose, prices can significantly vary month to month and seasonally so keeping track of your usage is important for budgeting purposes.
Another con for furnaces is that they are not as energy efficient as heat pumps.
Summarizing the Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps Versus Furnaces
Alright now, let’s quickly summarize all of the pros and cons for quick reference.
Heat Pumps Pros:
- Energy efficient compared to other heating systems.
- Doesn’t require the use of combustible fuel, lessening any risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or gas leaks.
- Ideal for homes in an area that doesn’t often go below 30-40°F
- Dual functioning for heating and cooling
Heat Pump Cons:
- Can cost more than other heating systems, with an average of around $5,500.
- Poor efficiency in extremely cold conditions (below 20 – 30°F), making it difficult to maintain comfortable temperatures.
- Shorter lifespan compared to furnaces at 10-15 years before needing a replacement.
- Reliable and consistent heat even in colder climates where temperatures regularly dip below 20-30°F.
- Cost effective than other heating systems; installation typically costs an average of around $4,600.
- Longer life span than heat pumps at around 20 years with proper maintenance and care.
- Powered by fuel which can be expensive if not properly managed; prices vary month to month and seasonally.
- Less energy efficient than heat pumps.
Which System is Right for You?
When deciding between a heat pump and a furnace, several factors should be taken into consideration. The climate of the area in which one lives is an important factor. Heat pumps are ideal for areas with mild climates because they can maintain comfortable temperatures even when temperatures dip below 30-40°F.
However, if you live in a colder climate where temperatures often go below 20-30°F, then furnaces are the better option as they are more reliable and consistent in providing warmth when conditions become extreme.
Budget is another important factor to consider when choosing between these two systems. Heat pumps require a higher initial investment than most other heating systems including furnaces, but they can provide energy savings over time due to their increased efficiency levels. On the other hand, furnaces tend to cost less than heat pumps but may be more expensive in terms of fuel costs since they run on combustible fuels such as oil or natural gas.
Personal preferences will also play a role in your decision-making process as well. Furnaces have been around for centuries and many people find comfort in their tried-and-true nature. So understanding how each system works and how much time you are willing to spend managing them is important before you make your final decision.
Overall, taking factors such as climate, budget, and personal preferences into consideration will help ensure that you make the right choice for your home heating needs.
It’s also a good idea to contact your local HVAC company and ask them which would be better for your home. They’ll
understand your home’s needs best depending on the location, size, and much more.
Should You Get a Heat Pump or Furnace in Alabama?
The state of Alabama is located in the southeastern region of the United States, with temperatures that can range from mild to hot throughout the year. Summers in Alabama tend to be hot and humid, while winters are generally mild and short. The average temperature during the summer months is between 75-85°F (24-29°C), while temperatures drop to an average of 40-50°F (4-10°C) in the winter.
In terms of precipitation, Alabama experiences heavy rainfall with thunderstorms during the spring and summer months. Snowfall is rare, but light snow showers do occur occasionally during winter.
This means that heat pumps are generally a great option for homeowners living in Alabama as they provide efficient heating for the climate here in Alabama.
Get The Right Type of Heat In Your Home
When deciding between a heat pump and a furnace for your home heating needs, climate, budget, and personal preference should be taken into consideration. Heat pumps are ideal for areas with mild climates whereas furnaces are better suited for colder climates due to their higher reliability and longer life span.
In Alabama, heat pumps are generally a great option as they provide efficient heating for the climate here.
If you’re trying to make the best decision for your home between a heat pump and a furnace, we encourage you to consult with a local HVAC company. They’ll be able to make an informed decision based on their expertise.