Heat Pump Versus Furnace
Looking to install a new heater in your Warman home? Your two most popular choices are a heat pump and a furnace. Each one has advantages and disadvantages when compared to the other.
The What’s What
Here are some things to consider to help you in your decision-making process. And remember, you can always call one of our heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals at AquaTemp for more clarity on this whole subject.
What About a Heat Pump?
The short version of how a heat pump works is that it transfers heat from inside to outside and then outside to inside. It works on the same philosophy as an air conditioner—it doesn’t create heat, it simply moves it around.
A heat pump is also an air conditioner, so essentially you get a two-for-one system. Here are its pros and cons.
Heat Pump Pros
• Runs cleaner. A heat pump runs off electricity, so it’s a cleaner source of energy than gas or oil. It can create one-and-a-half to three times more energy than it uses.
• Can be safer. Because a heat pump runs on electricity, there’s no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or gas explosions.
• Can provide both heating and cooling. In other words, it is convenient and could be more cost effective in the right home. Moreover, there are no added components or elements. Just be sure to keep the heat pump well maintained, because the US Department of Energy (DOE) notes how this can result in a 10 to 25 percent difference in energy consumption as compared to a neglected one.
Heat Pump Cons
More expensive to run: Since a heat pump operates entirely on electricity, it can possibly cost you more to run—electricity is generally higher in price than gas or oil. Of course, all of this depends on the price of electricity and the efficiency of your heat pump. In Saskatchewan, electricity from an electric furnace costs approximately five times more than natural gas would for heating your home. By using a heat pump, this closes the gap.
Heat pumps operate based on a COP (Coefficient of Performance): In simple terms, a COP of 1 would mean that for the unit of electricity you use, you get one heat energy out. The higher the COP, the more energy efficient the unit is. The thing to remember is that as the temperature outside drops, the COP decreases as well. A heat pump might have a COP of 3 at -10 degrees Celsius but at -20 degrees Celsius, the COP might only be 1.3. The best heat pumps will only operate down to -30 degrees Celsius, and after that, you will need to switch over to using some alternative source of heat since heat pumps will not operate below this temperature.
• Can sometimes only be used for heat in warmer climates. Some heat pump models only heat well in temperatures over 1.6 to 4.4 degrees Celcius (making it an ideal choice for the southeastern coastal part of the United States or California). Otherwise, your Warman home will need a supplementary heater, usually a furnace. This is known as a dual-fuel system.
• Has a shorter life span. A heat pump has an average projected life span of 12 to 15 years, while a furnace has an average 15 to 20 year life span. A heat pump suffers more wear and tear as well, since it runs year round, as opposed to a furnace that typically runs only a few months a year.
What About a Furnace?
The short version of how a furnace works is that it uses a fossil fuel to create its own heat, and then its fan blows the heat to different areas of your home via ductwork. Here are its pros and cons.
• Has a longer life span. Running only a few months of the year, a furnace’s life span is greater than a heat pump’s. Most furnaces nowadays can last 15 to 20 years.
• Requires less maintenance. Since a furnace is utilized only part of the year, the wear and tear is less, resulting in fewer repairs with proper annual maintenance by a professional—like one of our AquaTemp HVAC experts.
• Can be used in homes everywhere. A furnace can be installed in any climate, regardless of the temperatures, including your SK home.
• Can’t cool air. Since a furnace can only heat air, unlike a heat pump, you would need to make an additional investment in an air conditioner.
• Not as safe. Any time gas or oil involved, there is an inherent safety risk of fire or an explosion, no matter how minimal the risk. And with gas, a carbon monoxide leak is possible.
• Not as environmentally friendly to run. Gas and oil don’t burn as efficiently as electricity. Their burning produces toxic gases released into the environment.
What It All Comes Down To
As far as which is a better choice, you should take into account several important factors–– such as your Warman area’s climate, the energy rates for electricity and gas, how environmentally friendly the energy source would be––and go from there. If you have more concerns regarding furnaces or heat pumps, don’t hesitate to contact our highly trained and knowledgeable AquaTemp team.
We Are Your Furnace and Heat Pump Experts
AquaTemp is a team of fully licensed professionals. For any questions or to schedule service, call us at 306-370-8678 or request service online today. We service Warman, SK, and its surrounds, offering furnace and heat pump expertise, along with installation and replacement, repairs, maintenance, and more.