Heat Pumps versus Furnaces – Which Is Right for You?

Heat Pumps versus Furnaces – Which Is Right for You?

After a while, your heater will wear out and you’ll need to replace it. However, the replacement may not be as simple or straightforward as installing the same system you had. There are many different types of heaters but by far, the two most common throughout California are furnaces and heat pumps. Many people mistakenly use the term interchangeably, but they refer to two entirely different ways of heating your home.

So with the two being so different, it’s important to know which one is right for you. Getting the wrong one can lead to suboptimal performance, more energy consumption and general frustration with your situation at home. To help you make this decision easier, this blog will discuss some of the important differences between heat pumps and furnaces and give you the information you need.

How a Furnace Works

Furnaces have been in use for many years and are arguably one of the simplest technologies in use today. Furnaces burn fuel (usually natural gas) to create heat through a burner, which then transfers the heat to the air through a heat exchanger. The heated air is then pumped throughout your home with your blower fan. That’s all there is to it. As long as your furnace has an uninterrupted connection to natural gas, it can run for hours without interruption. And with modern advancements to heat exchanger and motor technology, they’re remarkably energy-efficient as well.

However, furnaces do come with some downsides. For one, you need to have a fuel source, which usually means having an existing natural gas connection. If you don’t have a natural gas connection, you’ll have to pay a plumber to come to your home and install one before switching over to gas. Likewise, because these systems burn fuel, they create exhaust and exhaust needs somewhere to be vented. This is particularly important because exhaust can contain carbon monoxide, which can be lethal.

How a Heat Pump Works

Heat pumps use an entirely different process to heat your home. Instead of generating heat by burning fuel, these systems simply collect heat from one area (outside), concentrate it and move it to where you want it. The process by which this happens is the opposite of the process that makes your air conditioner work—using refrigerant, your compressor collects heat and then transfers it inside. Your heat pump then exchanges the heat into the air, which it then blows into your home.

Heat pumps have a number of distinct advantages, including the fact that they’re easier to install just about anywhere you already have an air conditioner. In fact, some combination systems use the same hardware for both air conditioning and heating, just reversing the flow depending on the setting. Heat pumps are also tremendously efficient, producing a warmer home for very little energy. The downside to these systems is that they are a lot more expensive to install, they’re more prone to breaking down and they require considerably more maintenance to continue to run properly. They also face a problem in particularly cold weather—when it gets too cold, they lose their ability to produce heat simply because there isn’t enough thermal energy outside to collect. However, this usually isn’t a problem in California because it simply doesn’t get that cold unless you live at particularly high altitude where the weather is particularly frigid.

When you need to replace your heater, call the heating services team from Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar at (408) 868-5500.

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