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The Difference Between a Heat Pump & A Furnace

There are lots of different ways you can keep your home warm, however the majority of homes rely on one of two devices: a heat pump and a furnace. Many people mistakenly believe that these two terms are interchangeable or mean the same thing. The truth is that aside from the fact that they both heat your home, they almost couldn’t be any more different.

When the time comes to replace your existing heating and cooling systems, you may have the opportunity to choose if you want to install a furnace or a heat pump system in your home. However, sometimes that choice is made for you depending on what you already have. Here are some important differences between the two so you can learn more about which is right for your home.

Heat Production

A furnace and a heat pump produce heat in two entirely different processes. The furnace is substantially simpler: the system burns fuel from a fuel source like gas or oil to create heat which it then uses to warm the air and heat your home. In some cases, however, no fuel source is needed. Instead, these systems simply run electricity through a resistor, creating heat which is then radiated into your home.

A heat pump is quite a bit different. These devices don’t need a fuel source because they don’t actually create heat—they simply take it from outside your home and move it inside. It might not seem like there’s a whole lot of heat outside to capture, but these systems use specialized devices and a fluid known as “refrigerant” to capture as much of it as possible and then radiate it into your home. In fact, the process is exactly the same as your air conditioner, only with the cycle reversed.

Energy Efficiency

Radiators are by far the older technology and have largely been thought of as old, clunky, and inefficient. However, today that’s not necessarily true. Modern furnaces have been shown to have efficiency ratings of around 98%. This is especially true for fuel-burning systems, which actually can help you lower your electric bill during the winter months when the sun sets sooner and you depend on more energy to keep the lights on.

Heat pumps, on the other hand, have ridiculous energy efficiency levels—some systems have been tested as high as 300%! However, there are downsides to this system: they don’t work in environments where the temperature outside can approach freezing levels. Of course, this isn’t a problem in Florida, so that makes them a good choice. However, because there’s no fuel source, they run entirely on electricity, and that means you won’t really find much reprieve on that particular bill. In markets where gas or oil are cheaper to purchase than electricity, this could make a heat pump substantially more expensive to operate.

Longevity

Then there’s the question of which type of heating system lasts longer. Furnaces are generally renowned for their ability to run with little to no maintenance for quite some time. With nothing more than an annual inspection and occasional cleaning of burners and other components, a furnace can last for as many as 15 to 20 years—perhaps even longer!

Heat pumps generally require a much greater degree of maintenance. Because these systems have so many different components that must be working properly for maximum efficiency, it’s a lot more common for them to break down. These systems absolutely must be inspected by a Palm Beach County professional before the first major cold stretch of the season to make sure they’re properly prepared to handle the months of use ahead of them.

Schedule a maintenance service for your heating system by calling the Palm Beach County heating professionals at Phoenix Air Conditioning, LLC today! Dial (888) 660-4337 for your appointment.
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