Heat pumps and furnaces are the two most popular heating systems offered by home heating companies. In this blog, Home Air Services takes a closer look at the key differences between these heating systems.
Heat pumps are essentially reverse air conditioners. During a typical air conditioning cycle, heat is produced as pressurized refrigerant is released. This heat is then vented through coils in the condenser unit as a waste byproduct. Meanwhile, the depressurized refrigerant is passed through metal tubes and air is blown over them, resulting in cold air.
A heat pump uses the same compression-condensation cycle, but with the heating stage providing heat and the cold air in the cooling stage becoming the byproduct. HVAC and duct cleaning companies like us offer reversible heat pumps that make it easier to provide heating and cooling without an additional installation. It should be noted that the term “heat pump” also applies to geothermal or ground-source heat pumps, which draw heat from ambient sources such as the ground or nearby bodies of water.
Furnaces are heating systems that burn fuel to generate heat. Traditional furnaces burn oil or gas, while electric models generate heat using heated coils, similar to toasters and flat irons. Flames from burning fuel heat a metal heat exchanger, which then transfers heat through a forced air system and feeds it to the ductwork. The waste byproduct is vented through a flue.
Furnace efficiency is rated with AFUE or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Some types of fuel can be more efficient than others, which means the right combination of furnace and fuel can get you more heating for the dollar. The closer the AFUE is to 100%, the more efficient the furnace will be. Additionally, efficient furnaces generate fewer waste byproducts.
Which Should You Choose?
Furnaces are generally used in cold northern climates because they’re more suitable for long periods of use. Heat pumps, on the other hand, are ideal for milder climates. Certain factors affect this choice and should be considered when buying a new heating system: the upfront cost, expected life span and maintenance requirements of the unit are just a few of these. Fuel availability may also restrict your choices to electric furnaces. Consult a certified HVAC technician if you’re not sure which heating system will work best for your home.
Home Air Services is your leading provider of HVAC services, including air conditioner maintenance and repair. Give us a call at (301) 585-8100 (main) or (301) 984-0161. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.