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Is There a Difference in the Heat From a Furnace and a Heat Pump?

heating-cooling-ventThis is a debate homeowners often face when making a major update to their HVAC system that will replace both the old air conditioning system and the old furnace: should they replace the AC and furnace with another AC and furnace, or should they instead put in a heat pump to handle both heating and cooling?

A quick glance at that question may seem like the answer is simple: a heat pump. If it does both jobs, why not save the time and put in the single unit? But the answer isn’t simple. Heat pumps are more expensive than a standard AC, and they may not be right for all homes. Many people have heard that heat pumps simply can’t stack up when it comes to home heating compared to a furnace, and that they just don’t feel warm enough.

We’re going to look closer at the question of the heat from a furnace vs. a heat pump and provide some answers. The best way to get the detailed answers you need for your home and family is to call our Fairfield, OH, HVAC experts. They’ll guide you to the right system for your needs.

The Heat Is the Same, The Speed Is Different

If you set your thermostat to 72°F on a cold day, a furnace and a heat pump will both deliver 72°F temperature homes. No difference, the heat is the same. What is different is the speed at which this happens. A furnace can maintain a higher level of heat when sending out heated air to the rooms, and it will raise the temperature faster. The heat level coming from the heat pump is lower. This is why people often say that the heat from the heat pump feels different: the temperature from the vents feels cooler. But the heat pump will eventually deliver the cooling needed.

The difference in speed may be more important for some families and homes than others. A benefit of the heat pump is it’s less likely to result in drier air around the house—at least compared to an atmosphere combustion furnace. (Newer sealed combustion furnaces don’t contribute to drier air.)

The Efficiency Question

Another consideration when it comes to heat pumps is whether they can maintain their efficiency levels in extreme cold temperatures. A heat pump draws the thermal energy it needs to warm the inside of the house from the air outside the house. No matter how cold the outdoor air is, there’s always heat to access. But it becomes more work for the heat pump to extract that air in below-freezing temperatures, and this cuts into efficiency.

Newer heat pumps can operate at colder temperatures than before, but when you’re interested in a heat pump installation, you may want to consider a hybrid-heating option, where you still have the option to rely on natural gas or propane-powered furnace heat when the heat pump can’t handle the cold. For some homes, using both gas and electric heating can be the best middle-ground solution.

“For a Comfortable Way of Life,” call Bartels Heating & Cooling. We have 24-hour emergency service available.

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