Energy-Efficient Heating: Furnaces Vs. Heat Pumps | Simply Green Home Services
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Energy-Efficient Heating: Furnaces Vs. Heat Pumps

If you’ve made the decision to upgrade your home’s heating system, the choices available to you might seem endless. One of the first questions you’ll want to ask yourself is whether to go with a trusted, high-efficiency furnace system or a sleek, energy-efficient heat pump. Here are just a few considerations to keep in mind when making this important decision for your home.

What’s the Difference Between a Furnace and Heat Pump?

A furnace is a fuel-burning tank equipped with blowers that circulate the resulting hot air throughout your home. A heat pump is a two-part system with an outdoor-mounted compressor and a series of smaller indoor units that can circulate both warm and cool air through the home. This is the primary difference between the two systems: heat pumps manage both heating and cooling, while furnaces are only able to produce heat. However, there are several other ways that the two heating solutions can be contrasted.

Home Infrastructure

If your home was built with furnace heating in mind, you likely have a comprehensive duct system already installed that handles central air as well. This doesn’t mean that a heat pump is out of the question—many models are designed to work with existing ducts. You may also have a home layout that favours ducted heating over the ductless, wall-mounted models that are characteristic of heat pumps. For example, an open-concept home design would potentially need fewer units than one with many separate rooms, so a heat pump could work well; older homes with more classic room designs may be better suited to duct-based furnace heating.

Installation Location

Your furnace unit will be installed inside of your home, usually in an out-of-the-way area like a basement, laundry room or back room. If your house has space for it, an indoor furnace might be the way to go. In contrast, your heat pump compressor will be installed outside of the home, rather than inside, and your indoor heating/cooling units will be in main household areas for maximum effectiveness, like the wall in the living room. This can be ideally suited for homes without basements, elevated homes, and those with limited space.

Energy Usage

Heat pumps are most often powered by electricity, which some people consider to be a cleaner source of energy. They use a refrigerant to transfer heat energy from one location to another. Furnaces, on the other hand, create heat through the combustion of a fuel source—this might be gas, oil, or propane, for example—and use fans to circulate this heat through the home. Heat pumps offer potential savings on fuel bills; furnaces can offer less of a burden on electric bills.

Heat Output

The heat generated by a heat pump often feels cooler than the hot air that a furnace generates. Heat pumps move heat from outside the home to inside; on days when the temperature is extremely cold, sometimes these devices struggle to generate as much warmth as a furnace. Heat pumps also tend to circulate humid air, which actually keeps the home warmer but doesn’t always feel like it. Furnaces often feel warmer and, because they burn fuel rather than transfer heat, they are effective on the coldest days of the year. However, because furnaces are powered by burning material, the air they produce can sometimes feel very dry.


Both heat pumps and furnaces can vary widely in cost, and what you can expect to spend will rely not only on which type of heating you choose but also on your home’s existing infrastructure. You may not have access to natural gas, which makes an electric option preferable; on the flip side, your home’s wiring may not be conducive to an electric option without significant rewiring. The experts at Simply Green Home Services can help you to determine which heating solution would be the best fit for your home. Plus, with our comprehensive lease-to-own program with $0 installation or upfront costs and affordable monthly payments, you can be certain that getting the best for your home and family won’t break the bank.

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