If you’re preparing to buy a new heating system for your home, you’ve probably come across the term “heat pump” on your internet quest for information. Even though many people are unfamiliar with this type of HVAC equipment, heat pumps have been used for residential heating and cooling for over 50 years. They’ve also become even more energy-efficient with time.
Not sure if a heat pump is right for you? Below, we’ll explain:
how a heat pump is different from a furnace;
the benefits of owning a heat pump;
and the possible drawbacks of owning a heat pump.
HOW IS A HEAT PUMP DIFFERENT FROM A FURNACE?
The biggest difference between a heat pump and a furnace is that a heat pump can cool and warm your home. If you’ll need to replace both your furnace and air conditioner soon, instead of buying both, you can simply buy one heat pump.
How Heat Pumps Work: A Basic Explanation
Like an air conditioner, a heat pump contains refrigerant. That refrigerant absorbs ambient heat (ground, air, water, etc.). If you want to cool your home, the blower (fan) moves this heat outside. If you want to warm your home, the blower moves this heat indoors.
A furnace uses electricity or combustion (with gas or oil) to generate heat inside your home. This method is less efficient than a heat pump’s process, and it also produces more pollution.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF OWNING A HEAT PUMP?
There are multiple advantages to replacing your furnace with a heat pump that many homeowners don’t know.
One System, Two Functions
As mentioned above, you can benefit from owning one system that performs both heating and cooling. This means that instead of requiring annual maintenance for your furnace in fall and your air conditioner in spring, you’ll only need one yearly maintenance appointment to cover everything.
A Safe and Greener Alternative to Gas and Oil Furnaces
Heat pumps are a more energy-efficient, safe, and environmentally-friendly alternative to furnaces that use gas and oil. Because they run on electricity, they don’t create the harmful byproducts that come with combustion (burning gas or oil). This means you don’t have to worry about carbon monoxide or exhaust leaks worsening your indoor quality. You also don’t have to worry about gas leaks, delayed ignition, and combustion issues that require a repair.
Increased Comfort While Using Less Energy
The Department of Energy reports that heat pumps can reduce energy usage by 30 to 60 percent. During cooling seasons, heat pumps are actually better at controlling humidity than your average AC. Better humidity control means the system can cool your home faster and keep it comfortable with less energy.
Heat Pumps Can Save You Money
Throughout the heating season, gas and oil prices fluctuate from year to year and from month to month. You will still spend more money on gas or oil to heat your home than you will on a heat pump, even when they are at their lowest. Heat pumps don't actually burn fuel to generate heat. An air conditioner works by extracting the thermal energy already present in the air outside and pumping it into your California home using a few watts of electricity and a series of coils filled with refrigerant.
WHAT ARE POSSIBLE DRAWBACKS OF OWNING A HEAT PUMP?
While there are several benefits to installing a heat pump, you should also consider these factors.
Particularly Cold Regions Might Need Back-Up Heating
Because heat pumps transfer heat rather than generate it, they can have difficulty heating homes in areas where the temperature routinely drops before 40 degrees Fahrenheit. While this is not the case for many areas in California, certain regions can get very chilly during the winter. You can still own a heat pump in a colder climate, but you’ll need to equip it with electric or gas burners to provide supplemental heat.
Electricity Prices vs. Gas Prices
If your town has really low gas prices compared to electricity prices, you might not save any extra money during winter by switching from a gas furnace to a heat pump. However, if you need to run the AC a lot during summer and fall, this is when you could make up the difference with a heat pump.
To see if a heat pump is right for your home in Bakersfield, Visalia, or Fresno, we recommend speaking with one of our HVAC experts to help assess your heating and cooling needs. Give our friendly team a call at (661) 271-6099.