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 homes 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.
Heat Pumps: 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. Some disadvantages of the heating portion though, 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 then running a gas furnace. 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. A heat pump when heating also 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. 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 Furnace: Gas furnaces are a great way to heat your home. They are the common heating system used in colder weather climates, but they are also used in our region. 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. Gas furnaces on average are more costly to run than heat pumps, due to the cost of the gas. Unless you want your house very toasty, then in most cases the gas furnace will be cheaper. 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, but once it can’t maintain your desired temperature then 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 our comfort specialists come to your home and explain the best heating option.
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. 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 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 and perform the load calculation, and give you options on which systems will work best for your home. After explaining the different options, and benefits of each, together you’ll decide on a system if you’re ready. From there the installation will be scheduled, 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 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 the 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 heats your home.
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. This is a measure of a gas furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy, by projecting the average thermal efficiency for a complete heating system. Again like the HSPF rating, the higher the number, the more efficient it is. AFUE is a percentage, and mostly ranges from 80% to 98%.
On Average How Long is a Heating System’s Lifespan?
Heating systems lifespans vary based on many different factors. 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’s HSPF is 10. Therefore, most likely the higher HSPF will have a longer lifespan. So having different models will alter the lifespan of your system. But also different systems will vary the lifespan of your system. Think of a heat pump and furnace for example. Living in the Wilmington area, we don’t need to use the furnace for majority of the year. Meaning most of the year it gets to rest. While if you use a heat pump to both cool and heat your home, it’ll be running year round. So usually the furnace will outlast the heat pump that is constantly operating.
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 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. Well 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.
Where you live is a key factor of your system’s lifespan also. There are a few examples of this. Like mentioned before where we live in North Carolina, someone with a gas furnace will usually not have to run their heat very often. Though someone who lives somewhere like Maine 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 it’s not running as often as the one in Maine. Another example of location varying the lifespan of a system is systems on the coast have several conditions that other systems don’t. The elements that an outdoor system on Wrightsville Beach will encounter are different than a system in somewhere like Leland. Due to the salty air an outdoor unit on the beach will start to corrode a lot faster. There are several natural factors, such as salty air, that can affect the lifespan of your system. Which is why your location is a factor of the lifespan of the system.
Here are estimates on different systems from the National Association of Home Builder’s 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- 16 years
So, as you can see, there are many factors that vary the lifespan of your heating system. If you want more information about your specific system, give O’Brien a call and we can answer any questions you may have.