Heat Pumps or Gas Furnaces – Which is Better

With the recent cold snap affecting much of the United States – including our own little neck of the woods here in North Georgia – many home owners are beginning to take a serious look at the way they heat and cool their homes. Both budget and comfort are important factors, and because of that, we are going to take a look at the role of heat pumps and furnaces and how they work to keep you warm during the cold months.

What is a Heat Pump?

The name “heat pump” can be a little deceptive, as technically heat pumps can be used to both heat and cool your home. The name comes from the method by which the device works to change the temperature in your home. Essentially, a heat pump’s job is to move hot air from one location to another. In the summer, or warmer months, a heat pump moves warm air out of the home to make it cooler, and in the colder months, it transports warm air from outside of your home to the inside, making your living space more comfortable.

Because of this duality, heat pumps work year-round, relying on electricity and an air handler to circulate warm air in and out of the home. The method is similar to how a refrigerator operates, only opposite.

Heat pumps operate on electricity, which makes them safer in terms of fire hazard and carbon monoxide poisoning. Heat pumps can also be cheaper than gas furnaces, especially in regions with higher than average fuel prices. According to Energy.gov, heat pumps can reduce your electricity you use for heating by up to 40 percent.

Another thing to consider is the actual temperature ranges where you live. If you live in a climate with very cold temperatures (think 40 degrees and below), a heat pump will have a more difficult time – essentially there is less hot air outside to compress. As such, the energy efficiency benefits become less in colder areas.

How Furnaces Generate Heat

Furnaces – or forced air furnaces as they are sometimes referred to – are powered by either electricity, natural gas (propane) or oil, with oil being the least desirable of the three, due to its inefficiency and pollution byproduct.

Furnaces rely on an actual flame to heat air. Once the air is heated, a fan forces the air through the ducts and ventilation system of your home, heating your spaces.

Like a heat pump, furnaces have issues in certain climates as well – primarily in warmer regions – mainly because furnaces don’t cool air. Another downfall of furnaces is from a safety perspective – as noted above, furnaces come with certain fire and carbon monoxide poisoning risks.

What is a Heat Pump and Furnace Matched System

Perhaps the best solution for home temperature regulation, particularly for residents of warmer areas like the southern United States and here in North Georgia, is a dual system, comprising both a heat pump and furnace. In this scenario the heat pump does the work of cooling and heating your home during peak times, while the furnace kicks in during colder months to help conserve energy and drain on the heat pump system. Likewise, as temperatures rise, the furnace dials it back and the heat pump begins working again. This process ensures maximum heating/cooling and energy efficiency, resulting in a more comfortable home and lower energy bills.

A Final Note

As with any home improvement or home renovation work, I highly recommend you consult a licensed and insured north Georgia remodeling contractor before undertaking any substantial home projects.

If you live in the Gainesville or North Georgia area and are looking for a home remodeling contractor or a referral to an HVAC specialist, why not give Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodeling a call? We’ll be glad to help!