There are several different ways to heat a home in southern California. In this article we will discuss two of the most popular options gas furnaces or heat pumps. We understand that trying to figure out what type of heating system is best for your home can be a difficult decision. One of the biggest determining factors depends on where you live. Heat pumps will be the more efficient in areas of the country with mild winters such as the coastal regions. Furnaces on the other hand can withstand even the harshest of winters. Below, we discuss the furnace vs heat pump debate and the pros and cons of each.
A furnace uses gas or other fuel to cause a combustion that heats the air. The heated air is then dispersed throughout your home by an electric fan. To heat the air a furnace creates its own heat through the use of fuel and a chemical reaction. The efficiency of a furnace is measured as a percentage AFUE or annual fuel utilization ratio. A standard efficiency furnace provides 80% AFUE. This means 80% if the energy is used to heat your home, while the other 20% is expelled as exhaust.
Gas Furnace Pros
The biggest pro of a gas furnace is that it can heat your home regardless of outside temperature. This is because furnaces create heat, while heat pumps must use heat from the outside of the home and pump it inside. Another pro is the initial investment price. The price for installing a new furnace is lower than it would be to install a heat pump, between $500 and $1000 lower. Furthermore, the lifespan of a gar furnace is usually longer than that of a heat pump. A gas furnace will also require less maintenance each year since its only used for a few months.
Gas Furnace Cons
The biggest con of a gas furnace is the cost of fuel. Although most of the time a gas furnace will be less expensive to operate than a heat pump, it depends on your accessibility to natural gas lines in your area. Furthermore, the products of a gas combustion can result in poor indoor air quality. Keep in mind also that natural gas contains carbon monoxide. Your safety depends on proper installation and regular maintenance and inspection of all furnace components.
A heat pump works by pulling heat from the air outside and transferring into the air in your home. A heat pump does not use gas or electricity to generate heat. It only uses electricity to run the fans that move the air. A heat pump looks very similar to a split system combination. However the indoor unit is not a furnace, but an air handler. The air handler contains a coil and heat strips and there aren’t any gas lines involved. The air handler is responsible for moving the air over the coil full of hot refrigerant, as the air passes over the coil it gets warmer. A fan located in the air handler blows then blows the warm air into your home.
Heat Pump Pros
The biggest benefit of a heat pump is its energy efficiency on mild winter days. The only time it uses electricity is to move the heat. Many newer heat pumps are able to reliably heat your home even if outdoor temperatures fall below freezing. Heat pumps also do not dry your skin out as much as a furnace would. They also do not use combustion so they do not produce carbon monoxide.
Heat Pump Cons
If you live in an area with extreme cold winters, heat pumps might have to use a lot more electricity that would cause your utility bill to be higher than if you were using a gas furnace. To heat your home in extreme cold, heat pumps use heat strips. These heat strips are located inside the air handler. They help keep your home warm, but it costs money to use them. The exception, is if where you live the temperature never gets below freezing. If where you live you are susceptible to freezes or snow then you think twice about choosing a heat pump for your home. Furthermore, the air from a heat pump is just not as hot as what you get from a gas furnace.
If you are deciding between a heat pump or gas furnace for your home contact us at (818) 341-3406 or online so we can assist you. It is also important to have your equipment inspected whether you have a heat pump or gas furnace to make sure they are operating properly and keep you warm through winter.
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