The answer to that question is yes … and no. The first step is to explain how heat pumps and furnaces are different.
Let’s start in the kitchen with a gas stove. Light one of the burners and hold your hand above the flame, not too close of course. Depending on how close your hand is, it will get very hot. Now shut the stove off and walk over to the refrigerator. If the fridge is running, you should feel heat coming from behind or underneath. It may not be hot, but you should be able to feel warm air.
What are we getting at?
Of course, the stove is very hot because you are burning fuel. But how does the refrigerator produce warm air when it’s not burning any fuel? It’s keeping your food cold by squeezing the heat out of the air inside the fridge and transferring the heat to the room. In a very basic way this is the difference between a furnace and a heat pump.
What a heat pump is really doing is transferring heat from one location to another. During the heating season it squeezes the heat out of the outside air and transfers it to the inside of your home. The unit also has a reversing valve which allows it to work like an air conditioner does during the summer. It squeezes the heat out of your house and transfers it outside.
What if the outside air is cold?
Even when it feels cold, there is still heat in the outside air. Heat pumps are less efficient as the outside temperature drops. It’s why they are a much more common heating source in places where winters are moderate. As the technology has improved heat pumps have become more viable for places like Ohio, but on the very coldest days a heat pump may have a difficult time keeping your Columbus home comfortable.
Which is better?
Which is the right choice for you, heat pump or furnace? Here are some factors to consider. If you don’t have access to natural gas, heat pumps are the most efficient form of electrical heat for your Columbus, OH home. There’s also a matter of personal preference and comfort. Heat pumps and furnaces are both forced-air systems. A furnace heats the air to a much higher temperature so the air moving around the house will feel warm. The heated air from a heat pump is generally lower than your body temperature. Even though it’s heating your home it may feel cool on the skin. If that's a huge factor, you may want to opt for a traditional furnace.
Dual fuel systems
The ideal for comfort and efficiency is to have both types in your home. You can install a gas furnace as a form of supplemental heat. During normal winter weather, the heat pump is capable of heating the home more efficiently than the furnace. When an arctic blast hits, the furnace kicks in and takes over for the heat pump.
We’re here to help
If you still have questions about heat pumps or any other HVAC systems, call Fire & Ice Heating & Air Conditioning to learn more. For more great information like this be sure to follow us on Facebook.