What's the difference between a heat pump and furnace?

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What’s the difference between a furnace and a heat pump, and what does it mean for your home’s HVAC equipment? We’ll break it all down for you in this video.

Video Transcription

What’s the difference between a furnace and a heat pump, and what does it mean for your home’s HVAC equipment? We’ll break it all down for you in this video.

Hi, I’m Roger from Fire & Ice. One of the most common questions that we receive from customers is what’s the best way to heat my home. Depending on your specific heating needs, it typically comes down to either a heat pump or a furnace or a combination of the two. In this video we’ll cover the difference between the types of central air heating systems, what are the benefits of each system, and which system is right for you. By the end of the video, we hope you'll know the types of heating options that we offer and a better idea of which solution is right for you.

What’s the difference between a furnace and a heat pump?

Let’s begin and take a look at the differences between furnaces and heat pumps. The main difference is that a heat pump can both heat and cool your home while a furnace only heats. However, heat pumps can struggle to provide sufficient heating when temperatures outside get too low. Furnaces on the other hand, provide heat in and of themselves, traditionally through gas or electric power.

What’s the difference between a gas furnace and electric furnace?

When it comes to residential HVAC there are two types of furnaces commonly seen, electric and gas and sometimes oil in older homes. The main difference between the three furnace types is its fuel source. Gas furnaces are most common and combust natural gas or propane to provide heat to a home. Electric furnaces are the main alternative to gas-based systems and heat the home by passing electricity through heating coils. Oil furnaces are still seen from time to time and burn oil to generate heat.

What are the benefits of each system?

When it comes to heating your home your heating needs can largely be determined by what fuel source you have available to you. Gas furnaces are the most common in the northern United States and with the price of natural gas being low, this makes gas systems more economical.

If you live in an area with milder temperatures or don’t have access to natural gas, you may benefit more from an all-electric furnace and heat pump combination. Electric furnaces are considered 100% efficient since all of the energy put into them is converted to heat compared to gas furnaces, but the higher costs of electricity can make your energy bills higher in colder climates. Oil furnaces are still seen in older homes and are able to work with modern cooling systems. However, oil furnaces tend to be dirtier, less efficient and are worse for the environment.

Which system is right for you

When it comes to determining which furnace is right for you it often comes down to your individual needs. Standard HVAC systems include a natural gas furnace and an air conditioner. If you have natural gas in your home, or have access to natural gas a standard system is probably going to be the most economical and practical. Heating a home by natural gas is one of the cheapest forms of heating here in Columbus, Ohio. However, if you live in a milder climate or don’t have access to natural gas an electric air handler and heat pump would be more practical to heat and cool your home. Keep in mind, though, that heating a home using electricity tends to be more expensive because of the price of electricity.

A gas furnace combined with a heat pump would be a hybrid system or dual fuel system. This dual fuel system or hybrid system is most common for someone that is using propane gas versus natural gas. Some people don’t have access to gas lines, so an electric system is the only option. 

What to do next?

Now that you know the difference between heat pumps and the different types of furnaces, visit our products page to research further the types of equipment we offer. Thanks for watching and we look forward to making your day even better.

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