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Should I Get a Heat Pump or a Furnace?


As the weather starts to turn chilly, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to stay warm this winter. If your heating system isn’t up to snuff anymore, what are you going to replace it with? Heat pumps and furnaces each have their own benefits. Which is right for you? Take the time to consider some details so you can decide for yourself.


Most furnaces use either electricity or natural gas to create heat. Electric furnaces are extremely efficient, turning virtually all of the energy they consume into heat, but electricity is a more expensive fuel source. Electric furnaces themselves also tend to be somewhat more expensive than gas furnaces. However, they do last longer, provided they receive annual maintenance.

Gas furnaces last, on average, 10-15 years, and electric furnaces have been known to last for longer. While they are slightly less efficient in terms of what percentage of the energy they use that becomes heat, they are more economically efficient, both because of their lower initial cost and the lower cost of natural gas as a fuel source.

If you’ve had one type of furnace before, and are considering switching because the other sounds more appealing, there are some additional hurdles and potential costs to the process of furnace replacement in Shelby County, AL. Switching from gas to electric is fairly straightforward and will generally only require some minor modifications such as to your venting system. 

If you’ve never had a gas furnace before, you’ll need to make sure a natural gas connection is available from your utility company. It may be, whether because of a gas furnace a previous homeowner had or because of gas lines for the stove, water heater, or clothes dryer. If not, evaluate the cost of having the utility company connect you before making your decision.

Heat Pumps

As we said, furnaces use energy to create heat. This is a very energy-intensive process. Heat pumps do not generate heat, they simply transfer it, carrying warmth from one place to another. This makes them the most energy-efficient heating system that currently exists. 

While homes in colder climates require some sort of additional heat source beyond a heat pump, that’s not the case in areas where temperatures rarely dip below freezing. Even when it’s colder outdoors than in, heat pumps can provide warmth because they rely on the temperature differential between the air and the super-cooled refrigerant, not on the air being warm.

Heat pumps are also a cooling system. Simply switch the direction of refrigerant flow and your heater becomes an air conditioner. This makes them a perfect choice if you’re also concerned that your air conditioner is aging or failing, especially since they can run for twenty years compared to the 10-15 years of a typical AC unit.

Finally, heat pumps can operate using ductwork or they can use a ductless system. If your ducts are deteriorating or have been damaged, they can be eliminated altogether, saving you from massive energy waste. However, ductless system installation is an additional expense that should be assessed before you make your choice.

Consulting with a professional is the only way to get tailored recommendations based on your home and your specific needs. 

“Your experience is what matters most!” Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating today for help with all your heating needs.

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