Is a Heat Pump or a Furnace the Right Choice for You?

Posted on: January 11, 2017

If you are considering a new heating system for your home in the Raleigh-Durham area, you may have a difficult time choosing between a heat pump and a furnace. Both systems work well in the North Carolina climate, and each has certain benefits to consider.

At Air Experts Heating & Cooling, we work extensively with both furnaces and heat pumps. We offer new installations for each, as well as routine maintenance, repairs and system replacements throughout the Raleigh-Durham area.

The Advantages of a Heat Pump for a North Carolina Home

A heat pump works similarly to an air conditioning system, but in reverse, absorbing heat from the outside air using coils and a refrigerant. A compressor then moves the refrigerant to the indoor coils, where the heat is released into the air and distributed through the duct system. The cycle can be reversed in the summer to provide cooling as well. Here are a few of the advantages that heat pumps provide:

  • High Efficiency: Because no heat is generated by the system, only moved, heat pumps are energy efficient.
  • Reduced Energy Costs: In mild weather, heat pumps are efficient and inexpensive to operate.
  • Low Maintenance: Heat pumps are extremely reliable and require only basic maintenance, like cleaning the coils, checking refrigerant levels and changing the air filter.
  • No Fuel Required: Heat pumps use electricity to operate, and do not require a natural gas supply.
  • Provides Cooling: Unlike a furnace, a heat pump can also cool your home in the summer.

One of the major disadvantages of a heat pump is that as the weather cools, it becomes harder to extract heat from the outdoor air. Below 40 or 50 degrees, supplemental heating is required. In typical heat pumps, this is electrical resistance heating, which uses significantly more energy than the heat pump and makes operating them in cold weather comparable to or more expensive than a furnace.

The Advantages of a Furnace in a Raleigh Home

A furnace uses a fuel like natural gas, or sometimes propane or heating oil, to create a flame that heats air through a heat exchanger. A blower fan moves the air through the heat exchanger and ductwork. Furnaces are a relatively simple and efficient system, with several advantages:

  • High Efficiency At All Temperatures: Today’s furnaces are up to 98 percent efficient, and they work well at all temperatures.
  • Low Energy Costs: Furnaces powered by natural gas are inexpensive to operate and often less expensive than heat pumps that use supplemental heating.
  • Simple Maintenance: Furnaces require some basic maintenance annually, including cleaning the burners, changing the air filter and inspecting the heat exchanger.
  • Low Installation Cost: Furnaces are typically less expensive than heat pumps to purchase and install.

Furnaces tend to cost less than heat pumps to operate in colder climates, but they require a fuel source, they can produce carbon monoxide when poorly maintained and, if they are powered by propane or oil, they will be more expensive to operate in many areas.

Call Air Experts for Furnace or Heat Pump Installations in the Raleigh-Durham Area

In the mild climate of North Carolina, both systems work reasonably well, and your choice will depend on your preferences and the availability of natural gas or electricity in your home. At Air Experts Heating & Cooling, we can help you decide between a heat pump and a furnace, and we can handle all your installation, repair or maintenance needs in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Contact us today at 919-480-2727 to schedule service or request an installation quote!

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