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Should I Buy a Furnace or Heat Pump?

So the time has come to replace your heater. If you’re like many Florida residents, you may not depend on your heater all that much thanks to our largely mild winters, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never need a new one. In fact, it is possible for cold snaps to send temperatures plunging into the 40s on certain days. When the time comes to replace your heater, you’ll likely have a number of choices, and a furnace and heat pump are two of the most common.

In an earlier blog we discussed the difference between a furnace and heater in greater detail, but we’ll summarize it again briefly. A furnace is a traditional heating system which burns a fuel source to create heat, usually either natural gas or oil, but can sometimes be electricity itself. A heat pump doesn’t actually generate heat, but instead captures it from outside your home and distributes it inside where you want it.

Both of these systems are efficient, easy to use, have advanced considerably from as little as ten years ago, and both can serve your home for many years going forward. However, which one is right for you? Our blog takes a closer look at some examples to help you choose.

A Furnace

A traditional furnace is what many people turn to. If you already have a gas or oil line run to your furnace area, then you don’t have to install any additional hardware, and odds are you probably already have a furnace installed which you’re replacing. A furnace typically requires little maintenance, operates with efficiency ratings in the mid to high-90 percentiles, and have a long lifespan as long as they receive an annual cleaning and inspection from a Palm Beach County heating professional. They’re also generally far less expensive to install than a heat pump.

Perhaps the best news for furnaces is that a furnace uses very little electricity, which means you can keep your home heated without making your electric bill surge (unless you have an electric furnace, but more on that later). Gas rates are usually pretty low compared to electricity rates, so burning gas is generally a much less expensive (and more efficient) way of keeping your home warm.

However, there are some things that may make a furnace cost-prohibitive. For starters, if you don’t have a gas or oil line running to your heater area, then you’ll probably be limited to only using electricity, which means you’ll be burning a lot of the stuff during cold winter nights. With electricity rates surging around the country, that could be a huge problem. Alternatively, you could choose to pay to have a gas line installed, but that requires hiring a plumber and adds a ton to the overall install investment.

Heat Pump

A heat pump is essentially an air conditioner in reverse—whereas your air conditioner removes heat from your home, making it feel cold, your heat pump captures heat from where you don’t want it (outside) and brings it inside. Yes, believe it or not, there is heat outside, even when it feels like it’s freezing. Heat pumps do have an inherent weakness in this regard—when the weather gets too cold out, they simply can’t exchange enough heat and stop working. However, it never gets remotely cold enough in a Florida winter to reach that point so it’s not something you have to worry about.

Heat pumps do tend to burn a lot more electricity, which means you can expect to pay more in a utility bill, but they burn far less than an electric furnace, and they’re remarkably efficient at heating your home for the energy they consume. In fact, if your home doesn’t have a gas connection or you simply don’t want to run one to your heater area, these can be an outstanding option. You may not even need to buy a separate unit from your air conditioner, either—some bi-directional heat pumps can simply reverse the flow of refrigerant in your system and function as a heater during winter as well as a cooler during summer.

Owning and operating a heat pump is more intensive, however. With more moving parts, there’s a much greater chance of your heat pump breaking down and needing repaired. It’s extremely important that you have your system maintained each fall in order to prepare it for winter months and ensure it’s in good condition.

For more information about installing a brand new heating system in your home, call the Palm Beach County heating experts from Phoenix Air Conditioning, LLC at (561) 270-6181!