Key Differences Between Heat Pumps & Traditional Furnaces

Key Differences Between Heat Pumps & Traditional Furnaces

Jan 18

If you are looking to replace your heater, you have probably heard a thing or two about heat pumps. Heat pump technology is rapidly growing in popularity throughout the country for a number of reasons. For starters, heat pumps are tremendously energy-efficient, and that means lower operating costs and less money out of your pocket to stay warm all winter long. Secondly, heat pumps don’t actually burn fuel to generate heat, and that means they don’t produce any carbon emissions whatsoever. However, this type of heating technology isn’t necessarily a miracle and does have its disadvantages as well as its benefits. This blog will explain a few of them to help you better understand whether or not a heat pump is the right choice for you.

Heat Pump Advantages

Emissions-Free Operation

We briefly mentioned this earlier, but heat pumps are entirely emissions-free. Because they don’t consume a fuel source for operation, this type of technology doesn’t produce any type of carbon byproduct. That means a significantly improved carbon footprint and even improved safety in your home. With no carbon exhaust, heat pumps also do not produce carbon monoxide—a colorless, odorless toxic gas that is a natural byproduct of burning oil, natural gas, or other fuel sources in traditional furnaces.

Heating & Cooling in the Same System

Some heat pump models are capable of providing both heating and cooling capability within the same unit simply by reversing the direction of refrigerant flow. The benefit to this is obvious: only needing one unit for your heating and cooling means your HVAC system takes up less space. Likewise, it also means you only need to repair and maintain one system rather than two. Likewise, it makes the transition between the two seamless, and you won’t have to worry about one system sitting idle for months, resulting in extra wear and tear that could lead to breakdowns.

Heat Pump Weaknesses

Warm-Up Cycles

Heat pumps work by collecting heat from the ambient atmosphere outside your home, compressing it, and then moving it inside through refrigerant lines. When temperatures drop below freezing, collecting heat generally requires your outdoor unit to be even colder than that. What this means is that a heat pump will eventually need to stop running in order to warm up your outdoor coil and prevent it from freezing over. These periodic cycles generally only last anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes at a time and most systems feature a controller smart enough to handle them without issue. However, your heater cannot produce warmth during these periods, and that could lead to an uncomfortable dip in your indoor temperature.

There is an exception to this, however—dual-fuel systems. A dual-fuel system combines the energy-saving power of a heat pump with the consistent and dependable power of a traditional gas furnace. When your system runs normally, it will operate as a heat pump to save you money. However, when your heat pump needs to undergo a warmup cycle or when temperatures outside fall to the point where a heat pump is no longer efficient, a dual-fuel system will switch over to a traditional gas furnace. This, in a way, gives you the best-of-both-worlds option.

Purely Electric Operation

Remember earlier how we said that a heat pump’s entirely electrical operation is a huge advantage from a perspective of emissions and safety? This is true, but full-electric operation also has its downsides. If you’re looking for ways to cut down your electric bill, completely placing your home’s heating in the hands of electrical power certainly won’t do it. However, if your home runs on solar energy, you may be able to power all or part of your heat pump with power that you generate, and that can also help you keep your bills significantly lower.

To learn more about installing a heat pump, gas furnace, or even a dual-fuel heating system in your home, turn to the team at AAA Service Heating, Cooling & Electrical by dialing (303) 622-3449 today!