What’s Better – A Furnace, or a Heat Pump?

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hvac grand prairie tx

For most homeowners, finding efficient ways to heat our living spaces is a big priority in the winter. We all want to be comfortable when the cold weather hits, so we turn to our heating systems to make it so. While furnaces and heat pumps help homeowners stay warm, they work in very different ways. In this post, our HVAC Grand Prairie TX experts discuss the differences between furnaces and heat pumps and how each system works.

To schedule heating replacement, call Dial One Johnson Plumbing, Cooling and Heating at (469) 240-5618. 

Read on to learn which system is better suited for your home. 

How Does a Furnace Work?

Gas furnaces generate heat by burning combustible fuels—think gas or propane. An electric furnace blows air over a hot element the same way a hair dryer does. In either case, the furnace itself generates heat and then distributes it throughout the home. 

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

A heat pump does not generate its own heat. Instead, it draws heat from the outdoor air and transfers it inside. This may sound odd when temperatures plummet in the winter, but heat can be still drawn from the air after temperatures drop below freezing.

Furnaces and heat pumps both have an average lifespan of 15 years, but each system has unique benefits and drawbacks. Which system is right for you? That depends on your location, needs and budget. 

How Do They Compare?

Knowing which heating system to purchase is a difficult decision. Read on to learn more about how these two heat systems compare. 

Climate Matters

In extremely cold climates where temperatures fall well below freezing, a furnace will perform better. The ability to generate its own heat makes a furnace-based heating system less vulnerable to extreme temperature drops.

While a heat pump can still draw heat from below-freezing air, plummeting temperatures mean you’ll likely see diminishing returns. Heat pumps are excellent options for those who live in mild climates. One exception comes in the form of geothermal heat pumps. With these heat systems, refrigerant lines are buried underground, below the frost level. Geothermal heat pumps draw heat from below ground, where temperatures remain at around 40°–50° F all winter long. Geothermal heat pumps are more expensive to install and maintain than their regular heat pump counterparts. 

Space Required

Furnaces are installed indoors, typically in a basement or utility room, and require a 30-inch clearance all around to avoid fire hazards. As a result, furnaces can take up more room inside of your home than a heat pump would.

Heat pumps have outdoor compressor units that require a 24-inch clearance. This allows for proper air flow and maximum efficiency. A heat pump’s indoor handler, however, doesn’t generate its own heat and therefore doesn’t need a safety clearance. Some heat pumps can be mounted high up on the wall, freeing up precious floor space. This makes a heat pump a great choice for small spaces. 

Noise Levels

Since a furnace is usually tucked away in a basement or utility room, operational noise isn’t as much of a problem. Furnaces are also inherently quieter while running.

Heat pumps, however, are prone to knocking and clicking sounds as the air compressor controlling the unit turns on or shuts off. Since heat pumps are often located within a home’s living area, operational noise might be more of an issue. A noisy unit can also mask strange sounds that mean the system is in need of heating repair

System Versatility

While a furnace can only heat a living space, a heat pump can either heat or cool your home. In the summer, a heat pump acts like an AC unit. By reversing the pressure and flow of refrigerant, a heat pump will draw heat from indoor air and transfer it outside. This makes a heat pump an excellent choice if you require both heating and cooling from the same unit. 

Cost Comparisons

Furnaces constantly require fuel to run, which increases their operational costs. Heat pumps are highly cost-effective systems. In fact, they can cost homeowners less than half the amount a furnace would during the cold season. Heat pumps are also less expensive to install, with the exception of geothermal heat pumps that require excavation work. Another important cost factor comes in the form of cooling costs. Since a heat pump negates the need to install a separate unit for cooling, it can save a homeowner thousands of dollars. 

Heat System Size

Ultimately, the best unit for your space depends on your climate and your budget. Whichever route you choose, both furnaces and heat pumps require professional sizing and installation. A unit that is too small for the space it’s meant to heat will need to run constantly. This increases wear and tear, shortens the lifespan of the unit and results in inefficient heating.

Conversely, a unit that’s too big for the space it’s in will be prone to short cycling. Short cycling occurs when the home reaches the desired temperature quickly and the heating system shuts off before completing its full cycle. This keeps a unit from running at its optimal efficiency level. Instead, the unit perpetually runs in its start-up phase which requires more energy to operate. To avoid an emergency HVAC situation, be sure to call a professional technician to help size your unit. 

HVAC Grand Prairie TX Installations

Our professional HVAC Grand Prairie TX technicians will help you determine the correct system size for your home, wire your new system into your home’s electrical panel and/or connect a gas line to a furnace. We’re proud to offer financing to help cover the cost of big installations or unexpected repairs.  

Here at Dial One Johnson Plumbing, Cooling and Heating, our qualified technicians specialize in HVAC repair Grand Prairie TX homeowners can rely on. Our company operates on over 50 years’ worth of knowledge and industry experience in the fields of plumbing, cooling and heating. 

If you have questions or concerns about the best heating system for your home, contact us online or give us a call at (972) 992-1495. 


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