Differences Between Heat Pumps and Furnaces

HVAC units in Kennewick, WA
Finding the Most Effective Heating System for Your Commercial Property
October 19, 2022
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Differences Between Heat Pumps and Furnaces

Heat Pump Vs. Furnace in Kennewick, WA

When the chilly winter temperatures come around, having a reliable heating system in your Kennewick, WA-area home is indispensable. So, if it’s time to replace your old heating system, you’ll undoubtedly want to make sure you’re choosing the right new system for your home. The two most common options to consider are furnaces and heat pumps. Although furnaces are the most popular choice, they aren’t necessarily the best option for every household. These are some of the main differences between the two heating systems.

How the Systems Work

One primary difference between heat pumps and furnaces is how they provide heat for your household. Put simply, furnaces generate heat whereas heat pumps transfer existing heat. The most common type of furnace is the gas furnace, which creates heat by burning combustible fuel like propane or gas. On the other hand, electric furnaces generate heat by blowing air over a hot element. New heat is being created for both types of furnaces, and that warm air is then distributed around your home.

Heat pumps don’t actually generate heat. Instead, they pull heat from outside your home and then circulate that hot air to the different areas of the house. A heat pump can pull warmth from outdoors even when it’s cold outside. The device absorbs the heat with pressurized refrigerant lines. Once the heat has been absorbed, transferring it to your living space is a simple matter.

Heat Pumps Have Two Functions

When you have a furnace, you typically need a separate air conditioner to cool your home when the weather gets hot. This is because furnaces really only have one function, and that’s to provide heat.

Heat pumps, on the other hand, are capable of both heating and cooling your home. When the summer arrives, you can switch your heat pump to cooling mode. When you do that, the system will reverse its refrigerant flow through its coils, allowing it to start removing heat from the air in your home. Essentially, it will function the same way a standard AC unit would. So, if you have a heat pump, you typically don’t need a separate air conditioner, which can save you both money and space.

Comparing Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is one of the most important considerations when shopping for a new heating system. And in most cases, heat pumps require less energy than furnaces. Because heat pumps don’t actually need to generate heat, they don’t typically need to work as hard to keep your household warm.

Although heating costs can be impacted by several factors, a propane-burning furnace will cost around $1,500 on average to operate for an entire winter. For an electric or natural gas-burning furnace, that figure will be about $900. With a heat pump, you’ll only be spending around $500 on average to stay warm throughout the whole winter. Although these are only averages, heat pumps are almost always cheaper to operate than furnaces.

Comparing Upfront Prices

If you’re on a tight budget, a new heating system’s upfront price will be another critical factor in your decision. First and foremost, the prices of heating appliances will vary quite a bit depending on the brand and the model you’re purchasing. That said, heat pumps are usually more expensive to purchase and install than furnaces.

However, a heat pump both heats and cools the home. Therefore, it’s important to remember that overall, a heat pump is usually less expensive than the cost of a furnace and air conditioner combined.

Furnaces Perform Better in Cold Climates

Although heat pumps are usually more efficient than furnaces, that isn’t always the case. In climates that frequently see temperatures below freezing, furnaces tend to be more efficient and reliable. This is because heat pumps need to be able to pull heat from the air outside to do their jobs. And although they’re capable of absorbing heat when it’s freezing out, they have to work much harder to do so.

At Bruce Mechanical, we have been proudly serving the greater Kennewick area since 2002. We’re a locally owned and operated business, and we prioritize high-quality work and personalized customer service. Our expert offerings include heating, cooling, indoor air quality, ductwork, fireplace, and construction services. Contact us at Bruce Mechanical today if you’d like to schedule an appointment!