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Replacing an Old Furnace with a Heat Pump: Good Idea or Not?

sun-and-snowflake-badgeThe furnace is the ol’ workhorse of home heating. There are more furnaces in houses in the U.S. than any other type of heating system. Furnaces have held this top position for decades because, simply put, they get the job done. A well-maintained furnace can last more than 15 years—even longer for an electric model—and they can combat the most intense cold conditions.

Yet, when it comes time to make a big change in an HVAC system, some homeowners have switched from a furnace to a heat pump. A heat pump is an electrically powered system that operates on the same principle as a split system air conditioner, and uses the same set of ducts to distribute air. The difference between a heat pump and an air conditioner is a heat pump can work as both a heating and cooling system by switching the direction of operation.

If you’re considering replacing your furnace this year, a heat pump might be on your list of possibilities. But is it the right choice?

The Case in Favor of a Heat Pump

If your home doesn’t use natural gas power and your current furnace is an electrical model, then making the change to a heat pump is a fantastic idea. Heat pumps are also electrically powered, but in heating mode they consume far less energy than a furnace. This is because a heat pump uses electricity to move heat from one place to another, rather than create heat by running a current through heating elements. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home can save $300 or more annually with a heat pump compared to an electric furnace.

Choosing a heat pump for a replacement is even better if you have an aging air conditioner that’s ready to retire as well. You’ll have your heating and cooling needs taken care of in a single installation. Heat pumps do cost more than either a furnace or standard AC alone, but when a heat pump replaces both, it’s a much more cost-friendly solution.

When you have concerns about using a gas-powered heater because of safety reasons, then a heat pump is also a great choice.

The Case Against a Heat Pump

A gas-powered furnace is much more capable of handling low winter temperatures than a heat pump, which can struggle with efficiency when temperatures drop too low. So if you already have a gas furnace and you aren’t also considering putting in a new AC as well, it’s probably best to stick with a new natural gas furnace rather than chancing to a heat pump. Gas furnaces are still among the most energy-efficienct units available, and with newer technology you can have a high-efficiency unit installed as a replacement that will lower your bills even further.

We’re a full-service contractor offering the best in HVAC to Wilson, NC and throughout the Triangle Area. Our team is committed to seeing that you receive the comfort you deserve, and you can count on us to help you make the best choice for your home when it comes to a new heating, air conditioning, or other HVAC installation.

Comfort Master Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. offers quality heating service to homes throughout the Triangle Area of North Carolina.

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