Which System is Better to Heat my Home: A Heat Pump or Gas Furnace?
The answer to this question can go either way, depending on your home’s needs and your personal preferences. In our region, these are the two most popular heating systems, and they both have different properties that make them vary from each other. Here is a brief description of each, and the benefits, faults, and pricing differential so that you can make the best choice for your home.
This is a popular choice in our area because a heat pump will both cool your home in the summer and heat your home in the winter. Also, a heat pump, when heating, doesn’t blow out hot air, which some people prefer and others don’t. This is because a heat pump just transfers the heat, which is more energy efficient than generating it. Heat pumps are a great option in our area, because for the most part, we have mild temperatures.
While it is convenient, there are some disadvantages of the heating portion; if you want the temperature of your home to be extremely warm, past the point of what the heat pump can handle, then it will have the heat strips start to run. Not that this is a bad thing, but in most cases, using your heat strips is more costly than running a gas furnace.
Overall though, if you keep your home at a temperature that the heat pump itself can handle, then your energy bill will be a lot cheaper than someone heating with a gas furnace. The reason it’s cheaper is a heat pump uses electricity, so as long as the heat strips aren’t being used, in most cases, you’ll have cheaper energy bills. The only disadvantage is sometimes it might need help heating your home if you keep your house at a very warm temperature during the winter.
Gas furnaces are a great way to heat your home. If you are someone who loves a really toasty home in the winter, a gas furnace may be the way to go. It can heat a house more than a heat pump can with lower costs because it won’t need to run heat strips like you would with a heat pump. While they are more often the common heating system used in colder weather climates because of their heating capabilities, they are also used in our region.
On a regular basis, for someone who keeps their house at a more consistent and lower temperature in the winter, a gas furnace on average is more costly to run than a heat pump, due to the cost of the gas. Also, if you use a gas furnace for your heating needs, you will need to pair it with a cooling system to use during the warmer months. (Note: Depending on the AFUE rating that your furnace has, some furnaces are more energy efficient than others.)
Can’t Choose between the Two? Pick both!
It is an option to have a heat pump as your main source of heat; however, once it can’t maintain your desired temperature, your furnace will take over. This is called a package duel fuel system, and there are many options to choose from.
So the answer to which system is better to heat my home… is it’s up to you! If you’re looking to install a new system, let one of our comfort specialists come out and explain the best heating options for your specific home.
Can O’Brien Service My Old Heating System?
We sure can! O’Brien will service just about any heating system, with the exception of oil furnaces. So whether you heat your home by a gas furnace, heat pump, geothermal system, or a ductless system, we can service it! It doesn’t matter who installed it or how long ago; we can take care of all your heating system needs. We perform repairs, maintenance, or, if your system is on its last leg, we’ll replace it. So if your heating system is in need of any of those services, be sure to give O’Brien a call today. Our suggestion here would be ‘Don’t delay’; every day you wait is another opportunity for more costly repairs to occur.
How do I Pick a New Heating System for My Home?
Choosing a new heating system can be stressful, especially if you’ve never replaced one before. There are many questions and decisions that you will encounter, but you don’t have to go through this alone. O’Brien Service Company is here to help walk you through each step of picking the best system for your home. Let’s start with ‘When’. When is the best time to replace? If your system is over 10 years old, and is constantly needing repairs, it might be time for a new system. All you need to do at this point is call O’Brien Service Company to schedule your complimentary in home evaluation.
Once scheduled for your evaluation, our comfort specialists can assist you in many decisions. They’ll measure your home, perform the load calculation, and give you options on which systems will work best for your specific needs. After explaining the different options and the benefits of each, together you’ll decide on a system if you’re ready. From there, the installation will be scheduled, and we’ll take out your old system and install the new. Your comfort specialists will meet with you for a follow up, and go over warranty options, inspections, maintenance options, and general information regarding your system. After your new installation, we’re still just a phone call away if you need us.
What Is an AFUE/HSPF Rating?
If you’re in the market for a new heating system, there are some puzzling abbreviations and numbers that might confuse you. Well, here are O’Brien’s explanations of these terms, so you can feel more confident when choosing your heating system.
If you’re considering purchasing a heat pump, you’re going to see a few numbers. There is going to be a SEER rating, which is 14+, and also a HSPF rating that ranges from 8-10. The SEER measures the cooling efficiency of the heat pump. The HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) measures the heating efficiency of a heat pump. This number is calculated by the ratio of heat output to electricity use on an average heating system. To simplify it, the higher the HSPF, the more energy efficient the system is as it heats your home, which can save you money on future electric bills.
If you’ve been researching furnaces, you’ll notice they measure the efficiency differently than a heat pump. A furnace’s efficiency is measured using AFUE, which stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. AFUE is a percentage, and mostly ranges from 80% to 98%. This is a measure of a gas furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy; this measure projects the average thermal efficiency for a complete heating system. Like the HSPF rating, the higher the number, the more efficient it is.
On Average How Long is a Heating System’s Lifespan?
The lifespans of heating systems vary based on many different factors.
What System or Model Are You Buying?
First, there are many different types of systems that can heat your home. Also, there are various models of those systems. For instance, Trane offers many heat pumps that differ because of their efficiency ratings. One with a low rating such as an 8.2 HSPF is going to have to work a lot harder than a system that has an HSPF of 10. Therefore, the system with the higher HSPF will have a longer lifespan. Okay, so it depends on the model, but also, different systems will cause the lifespan of your system to vary. Think of a heat pump and furnace for example. Living in the Wilmington area, we don’t need to use the furnace for the majority of the year. Most of the year, a furnace gets to rest. However, if you use a heat pump to both cool and heat your home, it’ll be running year round. Therefore, the furnace will usually outlast the heat pump that is constantly operating.
Are You Maintaining Your System Annually?
Besides the system type and model, another major factor that will impact the lifespan of your system is how well your system is maintained. It is very important that you have your system checked every year regardless of the make or age of the system. Trane says, “Asking a professional to check your system will increase the life of the system, improve energy efficiency, reduce pollutants and save money.” If you buy a car and never have it tuned-up, it’s not going to last very long. The same goes for your heating system. So make sure that you have an annual inspection on your heating system to help increase the lifespan of your system; it’s a small investment that can prevent costly repair surprises down the road.
What Climate Does Your System Experience?
Where you live is a key factor of your system’s lifespan also. There are a few examples of this. As mentioned, where we live in North Carolina, someone with a gas furnace will usually not have to run their heat very often. Someone who lives in a climate like Maine’s might run their gas furnace for several months of the year. If they both have annual maintenance and have the same system, most likely the furnace in North Carolina will have a longer lifespan, due to its not running as often as the one in Maine.
Another example of location varying the lifespan of a system is the salty coast. On the coast, you can run into several conditions that other climates don’t. The elements that an outdoor system on Wrightsville Beach will encounter are different than a system will in an area like Leland. Due to the salty air, an outdoor unit on the beach will start to corrode a lot faster. Location is definitely something to consider when choosing your system, and O’Brien techs can help to walk you through the difficult choice.
What Is a Common Estimate for System Lifespan?
Here are estimates on different systems from the National Association of Home Builders’ Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components. Remember these are estimates, but all the factors above can create a different outcome for your system.
- Furnace- 15-20 years
- Heat Pump- 12-15 years
So, as you can see, there are many factors that affect the lifespan of your heating system. If you want more information about your specific system, give O’Brien a call, and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.