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Friday, September 29, 2023

What Are the Key Differences Between Furnaces and Heat Pumps?

You won’t find too many air conditioning tips here, we’re discussing the key differences between a furnace and a heat pump. First-time homeowners are not always aware of the disparities among the two by comparison. Yes, both are going to provide warm air for the home but each one is going about the task in different ways.

A furnace uses combustion to get the job done while a heat pump relies upon the outdoor air to do the trick. Some of you may be wondering aloud how a heat pump can turn to the exterior air in the winter, as cold as that might be, to provide heat inside the home. Well, your curiosity is well-founded as one of the determining factors that would lead a homeowner to choose one over the other for their home heating apparatus is regional.

Homes that have milder winters will typically use heat pumps while those located in colder regions with harsher, more extreme fall and winter temperatures usually turn to furnaces for their warmth. Still unsure which one is best for your home? Read ahead for more facts on the differences between the two methods of heating and feel free to ask your local HVAC company in Tulsa for further guidance in making a decision.

How A Furnace Works

A furnace uses electricity and runs on gas or oil in order to create hot air. There is a flame that generates heat which in turn warms up an exchanger. That exchanger transfers the heat into a distribution method that incorporates forced air and it is moved throughout the ductwork of your home. The exhaust that is also created as a by-product, as you would expect in a normal fireplace scenario, is expelled through a flue that acts like a common ventilation system.

You want your furnace to be efficient about heating, so each one is rated under the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE. The thing to keep in mind is that some types of fuel are far more efficient than others, remember this when you go to purchase any furnace. You want one with the highest possible AFUE rating. An electric furnace won’t rely on the burning of fuel so these are typically the highest rated at 100% AFUE.

The greater the efficiency of your furnace, the fewer waste by-product that it creates and that can make your indoor air quality much healthier for you and your family.

How A Heat Pump Works

Heat pumps are more like air conditioners than you might realize. When an air conditioner moves through its cooling cycle, refrigerant is released but it’s been pressurized and this process produces heat. That heat is sent through a set of condenser coils and the refrigerant becomes chilled. That chilled air moves through the evaporator coils into forced air distribution which is where the cold air comes into your home.

But a heat pump essentially does the same process backwards so instead of cooled air being sent into the home, the heated air is sent instead and the cold air becomes vented. There are different types of heat pumps available, some take in air from the outside, some use water as a source of their heat, and still others rely on coils embedded into the ground.

Since heat pumps operate in the same functional manner as air conditioners you can even find some types that work as both, blowing cool air when need be.

Efficiency of Furnaces Vs. Heat Pumps

As mentioned before, furnaces run on multiple fuel sources with those that work on electricity, earning 100% AFUE ratings. Older furnaces were less efficient until the newest advances in furnace development and manufacturing increased their efficiency capabilities. The fact that heat pumps operate largely on electricity made them the more efficient option for years and while they were largely known to be so extremely efficient as to use so little of it, they were preferred by many homeowners. The main drawback, however, was that heat pumps were less effective the colder it got outside. Many of them had a backup heating source when the outdoor air temperatures dropped below freezing, that made them less efficient.

Choosing the Best for You

Furnace or heat pump? So, which one should you choose for your home? Furnaces are better for homes in colder regions and heat pumps for those in warmer climates, but there are other factors to take into account, such as installation costs, lifespan of the unit you select, routine maintenance requirements. All of these have to be taken into account based on your particular situation.

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