Gas Furnace or Heat Pump: Which Is Better?

While you have several options available in regard to home heating, it can seem overwhelming to choose (and even fully understand) the best one. Two of the most used and popular choices are heat pumps and gas furnaces. How to know which is right for you? Let’s look closer at these heat sources to help ease your troubled mind.

What are heat pumps and how do they work?

Simply defined, heat pumps are residential HVAC systems, powered electrically, that move heat from one area of the home to another. They use outside air to heat a home in winter and cool it in summer, making them very versatile tools. Heat pumps are very cost-effective and allow homeowners to maintain a reliable temperature all year long.

Here’s how they work: In winter, a heat pump will liberate natural heat from the outside air and move it around inside to provide warmth. During hot summer days a heat pump transfers heat energy from existing air inside the home and sends it outside, which ultimately cools the home’s interior. Keep in mind that geothermal heat pumps are also available on the market and they transfer interior air to the ground outside.

What is a gas furnace?

A furnace burns fuel and distributes heat throughout the house. All furnaces are built of four main components: burners that deliver and burn fuel (gas or oil), heat exchangers, a blower, and a flue to release gaseous by-products. Some systems can operate on a hybrid mix of gas and oil.

The good and the bad

It is always a wise strategy to list the advantages and disadvantages of furnaces versus heat pumps before installation. To lend a hand, here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Cost

Initial cost of a gas furnace is cheaper than a heat pump, but must be paired with an A/C unit to cool your home. A heat pump does both at a lower cost.

  • Energy efficient

Heat pumps are more efficient (up to 300 percent) because they transfer heat without making it. Heat pumps are also electrically-powered, which saves fuel costs.

  • Eco-friendly

Heat pumps don’t produce climate-damaging gases.

  • Comfort factor

Heat from gas furnaces feel warm and toasty, while a heat pump blows cooler. In contrast, heat pumps also circulate naturally humid air.

Also be sure to consider key factors such as the size of your home, regional climate, and your particular heating needs.