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When it comes to heating your home, a forced air furnace isn’t your only option. A heat pump may actually be a better option, especially if you live in a moderate climate. First introduced in the 1940s, heat pumps are growing in popularity, and for good reason.

The Benefits of Using a Heat Pump

Quiet, safe, and efficient, heat pumps are an excellent choice for homes located in states with a more moderate climate. Here are just a few reasons to consider a heat pump to keep you cozy and comfortable all winter long.

  • Energy Efficiency. Running on good old fashioned electricity, the average heat pump is significantly more energy efficient than the average gas powered furnace.
  • Save Money on Your Annual Heating Bill. Electric rates tend to be less expensive than natural gas, at least in most areas of the United States. This means that operating a heat pump system will cost less on average than a gas fired furnace.
  • Cheaper Installation Costs. Because a forced air furnace requires an extensive ventilation system, installation can be expensive, especially in a home that isn’t already equipped with one. Installation of a heat pump system will usually cost less than the installation of a furnace in most situations.
  • Quiet Operation. In general, heat pumps do not make as much noise as a furnace. This will cause less disturbance in your daily home life, allowing you to easily enjoy activities like watching television and sleeping without being interfered by a loud heating system.
  • Safer Operation. Since heat pump systems don’t burn fuel to generate heat, there is no risk of dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, since there is no burning fuel, operating a heat pump reduces the risk of fire.
  • Heating and Cooling in One Option. A heat pump can also cool your home in the summer. By simply working in reverse, a heat pump pulls hot air from inside the house and transports in outside. This allows you to heat and cool your home using a single unit

How Heat Pumps Work

Heat pumps don’t actually generate heat. Instead, they work as a sort of heat transporter, constantly moving warm air from one place to another. Heat energy is present in all air, even air that feels cold. When the temperatures outside are frigid, a heat pump extracts even small amounts of heat and transfers it to the interior spaces of your home. When The outdoor temperatures rise, your heat pump reverses direction. Acting like an air conditioner, the heat pump transports the heat in the inside air and transports it outside.

Where Heat Pumps Work Best

There are several factors to consider when choosing between a forced air furnace and a heat pump. However, the most important factor is climate. In areas that typically experience mild winters, a heat pump will be significantly more energy efficient than a furnace.  

In areas that experience harsher winters, a heat pump could struggle to keep up. Many systems include an auxiliary heat source that kicks in when outdoor temperatures plummet. However, if temperatures remain low for extended periods, a heat pump will be far less efficient and effective than a traditional forced air furnace. Basically, the farther north you live, the more likely it is a furnace will do a better job of keeping your home warm and comfortable.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal heat pumps can be more effective in colder climates. A geothermal heat pump draws heat from the relatively stable below-ground temperatures using a circuit of buried pipes. The major drawback to geothermal heating is the installation cost. The initial investment is expensive enough to deter most homeowners. Also, there are some locations where installation is impossible due to ground composition.

Discuss Your Options With a Professional

If you’re not sure which system is right for you, contact a qualified HVAC technician to discuss your options. An experienced professional can offer important insight into which system will work best in your climate and for your home. He or she can also help you better understand up-front investment and long-term operating costs.