6 Differences Between Furnaces and Heat Pumps in Bradenton, FL

Furnaces and heat pumps are both capable of heating your home this winter, but they differ in their energy efficiency, space needs, costs, and more. To save money this season, you’ll need to factor in your household’s comfort and budget to find the ideal system. These are five of the most common differences between heat pumps and furnaces in Bradenton, FL.

1. Energy Efficiency Ratings

A gas furnace uses combustion to create and circulate warm air throughout a house. Electric furnaces work like hair dryers and utilize heating elements. The average furnace has an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating of around 80%.

High-efficiency furnaces, on the other hand, can have an efficiency rating of 90% or higher. This means the system wastes 10% or less of its fuel when creating warm air. Heat pumps work differently from furnaces in that they move heat instead of creating it.

Much like air conditioners, heat pumps have refrigerant that changes the temperature of the air that the system pushes into your home. These systems tend to be more efficient than furnaces because they can provide more heating while consuming less energy. However, it’s important to factor in your local climate and its impact on your HVAC system.

Gas and electric furnaces are often more efficient in freezing conditions. Heat pumps function best in mild climates where winter temperatures seldom drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the temperature dips too low, your heat pump system may have to use a backup heater to keep you comfortable.

2. Installation and Service Costs

A standard gas furnace will typically cost you less to install than an electric heat pump. The cheapest route is often to replace your old system with a similar model. For example, if you already have a gas furnace, you won’t have to worry about the costs of installing new fuel lines or ventilation.

Gas-based heating systems tend to have the highest lifetime costs when you factor in required maintenance and repairs. You’ll have to pay more up-front for a heat pump, but its exceptional energy efficiency will save you energy and service fees later.

3. Maintenance Needs

All HVAC systems should receive routine professional maintenance at least once a year. Preventative care will keep your heating system running efficiently and safely over the years. Tune-ups are also a great way to boost your HVAC equipment’s lifespan.

Residential heat pumps can both heat and cool your home, and they come with indoor and outdoor units. Furnaces have only one indoor unit but typically pair with central air for year-round comfort. A heating and cooling specialist can help you determine the best care schedule for your comfort.

4. Potential Safety Concerns

With a gas furnace, you risk gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning. In rare cases, major system failures can result in delayed ignition or gas explosions. Fortunately, these systems come with effective safety features like pressure regulators and automatic shutoff valves.

Electric systems like heat pumps don’t utilize gas, but they require massive amounts of electricity. Faulty wiring or a circuit breaker issue could create a fire or electrical hazard. There’s also a chance that the refrigerant may leak and contaminate your yard with a harmful chemical.

5. Space Requirements

You install the average furnace indoors in your laundry room or utility closet. It typically requires around 30 inches of clearance all the way around for safety. Heat pumps have an outdoor unit similar to AC units that require about 2 feet of clearance.

Ductless heat pumps can also use indoor handlers that will take up space indoors. You’ll need at least one in every room where you want temperature control. Depending on your aesthetic preferences, you may not like the look of the handlers.

6. Average System Lifespan

Finally, both heat pumps and furnaces have lifespans of 15 to 20 years. How long your system lasts depends heavily on your usage, professional care, and climate. In ideal conditions, you may be able to increase the lifespan to 25 years or more.

Working with experienced HVAC specialists can help you make the right comfort decisions for your household. Contact our experts at Conditioned Air today to learn more about our superior heating installations in Bradenton, FL.

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