Heat Pump vs. Furnace: Which Should You Choose?

There are many options to consider when you’re looking at types of heat sources for your home. We are often asked for input on if whether it’s better to warm a Florida home using a heat pump or furnace. The answer to this requires examining a few aspects of your home and gain more insight into the differences of a heat pump and furnace. Here’s what the experts from Reynold’s Air and Heat use to determine the best recommendation for our customers.

What is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is part of a heating and cooling system which a professional installs on the outside your home. In cooler months, a heat pump pulls heat from the cold outdoor air and transfers it indoors, and in warmer months, it pulls heat out of indoor air to cool your home. Heat pumps are powered by electricity and transfer heat using refrigerants to provide comfort all year round. Because they handle both cooling and heating, homeowners may not need to install separate systems to heat their homes, especially in locations like Brevard County, Florida where we rarely experience cold temperatures. Unlike other HVAC systems, heat pumps do not burn fossil fuel like furnaces do, making them more environmentally friendly.

How is a Furnace Different From a Heat Pump?

As a heating system, a heat pump collects heat from the air, water, or ground and transfers it inside your home. In Florida, most residents use an air source version of the pump, whereas a furnace makes heat. This heat is then dispersed throughout your home using ductwork, fans and other measures. A heat pump is ideal for areas who experience mild winters.

Gas furnaces are becoming more efficient every year. Modern residential gas furnaces combine natural gas or propane with air, then burn this mixture internally to create heat. The system then transfers this heat energy to the air in the home via a heat exchanger keeps exhaust gases out of living areas. The furnace distributes air throughout the house just like the heat pump. A fan moves the heated air to various parts of the home through metal ducts. Additional ducts direct cool air back to the furnace for heating.

Should You Purchase a Heat Pump or Furnace?

Most cities in Florida only endure a handful of days that go below freezing (32 C), According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center.
Tallahassee sees an average of over 30 days below freezing. Heat pumps work best in temperatures between 40 – 50 C, so the question is where do you live in Florida; how well you can handle a few cold days in your home?

Cost of a Heat Pump and Fuel Costs

Another factor is the cost of fuel compared to the cost of electricity. Heat pump systems cost more initially compared to a furnace, but the lower cost of electricity as compared to gas saves utility expenses and helps recoup some of the upfront costs over time. If you live in an area that typically stays above freezing, then a heat pump can adequately warm your home.

Other Factors to Decide on Purchasing a Heat Pump or Furnace:

  • Is your home in Florida your main residence?
  • Does your home already have a furnace or heat pump?
  • Are you building a new home or updating an older home?
  • If you have a furnace, what type of fuel does it use?

Installation Costs

One key factor are you upfront costs vs. your long-term energy costs. For most people the heat pump is going to be a must more significant upfront investment. However, most studies agree that heat pumps save money for homeowners in the long run.

Dual Fuel Systems

A dual-fuel system is a home heating and cooling system that pairs an electric heat pump with a gas furnace and alternates between the two fuel sources to maximize comfort and efficiency. A dual-fuel heat pump works in conjunction with a central gas furnace. During the summer months, the heat pump works like a high-efficiency air conditioner. In mild spring and fall weather, it provides cost-effective and efficient heat. As the temperatures drop in the winter months, the pump shuts off and lets your furnace take over.

Anytime you include a furnace as part of your home heating system you will need to remember that air filter maintenance will still be part of your regular HVAC system routine.

There are always ways to save energy and reduce the monthly heating bill. Discover energy tips that apply to all homes, regardless of whether you use a heat pump or furnace. If you are looking to install a heat pump in your Florida home give us a call. Reynolds Air and Heat, located in Brevard County, FL offers free estimates and military discounts.