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The heat pump vs furnace debate has been going for a while, so which is best?  For those that are still learning, there are typically two types of heating systems to choose from: furnaces or heat pumps. Figuring out what type of heating system to use in your house can be a difficult decision, and we are often asked the pros and cons of these two systems. 

When the average homeowner thinks about home heating, the furnace is probably the first appliance that comes to mind. But energy efficiency aficionados may think differently, because heat pumps — which operate very differently — can heat certain homes for a fraction of the energy cost. But which one is right for you? 

First, let’s take a look at the basic differences. 

Heat Pump Pros 

In the heat pumps vs gas furnace competition, heat pumps have quite a few advantages, the most notable of which is their energy efficiency (not to be confused with their cost to operate), with modern heat pumps ranging from SEER values of around 14 to over 21 SEER.  A heat pump uses electricity to transfer heat from one area to another, which means that it never has to generate heat itself.  It simply moves the heat that already exists from one area to another, such as from the outside of your home to the inside.  A heat pump is also more environmentally friendly because it requires no fossil fuels to heat your home. 

Heat Pump Cons 

Because heat pumps are transferring heat from one area to another, what happens if it is -20 degrees outside in the middle of a North Dakota winter?  Is there any heat to transfer into your house?  That’s the catch. 

A heat pump only works well if the temperature is above freezing, and is almost useless in the middle of a harsh northern winter.  Ideally, a heat pump is used when the temperature outside is over 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit (and are VERY inefficient below 30-32 degrees. 

Furnace Pros 

The biggest pro that a furnace has is that it will heat your home in any condition, regardless of outside temperature.  Furnaces create heat, whereas heat pumps take heat from outside of your home, and pump it inside (hence the name).   

If it is 50 degrees out or -10, a furnace will burn it’s fuel and heat your home.  This reliability is priceless if you live in colder regions. 

Another pro in the furnace category is the initial investment price.  A furnace is generally around $500 to $1000 cheaper than a heat pump when installed, not including any duct work.  

Furnace Cons 

The biggest argument against the use of a furnace is the cost of fuel.  Depending on the type of furnace that you purchase, you can be spending thousands of dollars a year on fueling your furnace.  In most cases, a gas furnace will be significantly cheaper to operate than a heat pump, but do you have access to natural gas? 

If you’re not sure which system is right for you, our HVAC experts at Freeman Liquidators can help you work through the decision. It’s best to consult experienced professionals about whether your climate is appropriate for a heat pump, as well as the difference between up-front costs and operating costs. In general, the up-front costs of furnaces are lower than forced air heat pumps and much lower than geothermal heat pumps, unless you also need a full duct network installed. But if you’re in a temperate climate, the low operating costs of a heat pump can more than make up the difference over time. Visit us at 3983 W 7th St in Joplin for your HVAC needs!