Understanding the Difference Between a Furnace or Heat Pump for Your Union Home

February 23, 2015
Ross and Witmer

The mild Charlotte winters may not require the most efficient heating equipment available, but whether you use a furnace or heat pump still matters. Both systems can keep you comfortable, but each has its benefits and drawbacks.

Why a Heat Pump Might Be Best

If your home doesn’t currently have gas lines, the cost of installing them may outweigh the savings you’ll gain by switching from electric to gas heating. Because a heat pump is the most efficient electrical heating method, it’s a smart choice for homes without gas lines.

In most locations, heating with gas costs less than heating with electricity. The difference, however, is greatest in very cold climates. In milder climates, a heat pump may cost less because it uses so little electricity.

Because it doesn’t burn fuel and produce carbon monoxide gas, a heat pump is also somewhat safer than a fuel-burning furnace.

When to Go With a Furnace

On average, gas furnaces cost less to buy and install than heat pumps. If you already have an air conditioner that’s less than 10 years old and in good condition, it’s likely more cost effective to install a new furnace than to replace both the furnace and A/C with a heat pump.

Our area sees nearly a month of sub-freezing weather during the average winter and, during these times, a furnace is often the more efficient heating method. In very cold weather, heat pumps can’t extract enough warmth from the outdoor air, so they rely on inefficient electric resistance auxiliary heat to keep you warm when temperatures are near or below freezing. This greatly reduces the heat pump’s total efficiency.

You don’t have to decide between a furnace or heat pump, though. By choosing a hybrid, or dual-fuel, heat pump, you’ll benefit from optimal efficiency no matter the weather. These systems combine a gas furnace and a heat pump, automatically running the option that’s most efficient for the given weather.

For more help choosing the right heating system for your needs and budget, consult with the HVAC pros at Ross & Witmer. We proudly serve homeowners in the Charlotte, Mecklenburg, Gaston and Union areas.

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