Most home heating systems use heat pumps or furnaces as their primary heat sources. Although both heating options can be quite effective at heating your home, they are wildly different machines that work in very different ways. With winter less than four weeks away, you’re probably wondering if your heating system will be able to keep your Katy, TX home warm and comfortable in the coming cold months.
Whether your home uses a heat pump or a furnace, the best thing you can do is schedule an appointment with an AC repair company. They will be able to inspect your entire heating system and determine if it needs repair or replacement.
In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of both heat pumps and furnaces and which of them you should incorporate into your heating system if a professional AC technician recommends replacement.
What Are Heat Pumps?
Compared to furnaces, heat pumps are a relatively new heating option. In fact, an AC repair company is likely to encounter furnaces a lot more than heat pumps. However, heat pumps are an extremely efficient home heating option that can be a great addition to your home heating system. Heat pumps treat the air as both a heat source and heat sink, absorbing heat from the outside air when temperatures drop and distributing it through the house. One of the biggest draws of investing in a heat pump is that it can also cool your home when temperatures rise.
Thanks to a reversing valve, the heat pump can turn its evaporator coil into a condenser coil, allowing it to draw heat from the interior and dump it outside. As such, a good heat pump will heat your home over the winter and cool it over the summer, ensuring you and your family have a comfortable indoor environment all year long. Although heat pumps are very energy efficient, their efficiency reduces as the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures increases. You can reach out to a local AC company to help you determine how efficient your heat pump is.
Types of Heat Pumps
If you are looking to install a heat pump in your home, your AC repair company will most likely advise you about the following types of heat pumps:
- Air to air heat pumps – Works by using the air as a heat source and heat sink. They are energy efficient, can be used for heating and cooling, and work best in milder climates that don’t have extreme temperatures.
- Ductless heat pumps – They consist of an outdoor and indoor unit connected through the wall. They can only heat or cool limited spaces and are great for small homes or rentals. Ductless heat pumps are easy to install, and an AC repair company will do it in just a day or two.
- Underground or geothermal heat pumps – This heat pump draws energy from the ground rather than the air. This makes them effective even in extreme temperatures as underground temperatures always stay steady at about 40-50 degrees.
- Water source heat pump – Uses a series of soils under a nearby water body to provide cooling or heating. Like geothermal heat pumps, water source heat pumps are effective all year round as ground temperatures remain stable.
Should you decide to invest in a heat pump, an AC repair company will help you settle on a suitable type based on factors such as climate, budget, and heating needs. But before you make that decision, let’s talk about furnaces.
What Is a Furnace?
Homeowners have been using furnaces to heat their homes since the 1880s. Unlike heat pumps, furnaces generate their own heat using either fuel or electricity. A flame activates electricity, gas, or oil to generate heat and a blower blows the hot air through your home’s air ducts. Simple, right? A furnace also has a large metallic pipe called a flue that extends from the furnace to above the roofline and dumps combustion gases outside the home. Furnaces can only provide heating, and they are the best heating option for extremely low temperatures.
There are four main types of furnaces:
- Natural gas furnaces – These are some of the most common types of furnaces in Katy, TX. Extremely energy-efficient and economical, modern natural gas furnaces can be up to 98% energy efficient.
- Oil furnaces – They are slightly less efficient than natural gas furnaces (80-90%) but have lower upfront costs.
- Electric furnaces – They are cheaper than other types of furnaces, easy to install, and usually last ten years longer. However, you will likely spend more on electricity bills as natural gas is cheaper.
- Propane – They can be 90-98% efficient and result in lower utility bills. However, they can be costly to install
Modern furnaces are getting more efficient by the day. Natural gas furnaces, the most common type of furnace in America, are much more efficient than electric furnaces. Propane furnaces are also quite efficient, but they aren’t as common in American households. Your AC repair company will help you determine which type of furnace would be most suitable for your home.
You could also opt for a hybrid system that incorporates both a heat pump and a furnace, allowing you to get the best of both heating options. You could use the heat pumps during milder temperatures to heat and cool your home and then switch to the furnace when temperatures drop.
Heat Pumps vs Furnaces
Now that you know the basics about home heating pumps and furnaces, which of the two would you prefer? Both types of heating options have a ton of benefits, but they are ideally suited for different situations. Your choice will likely depend on the following factors:
- Climate – What is the weather usually like? If you regularly experience extreme winter temperatures, you would be better off with a furnace or a geothermal heat pump.
- Budget – How much can you spend on upfront and operating costs? Heat pumps tend to have lower operational costs than furnaces, but they have less heating power. Your AC repair company will help you figure out a heating option that falls within your budget and can fulfill your heating needs.
- Energy efficiency – This goes hand in hand with the budget. More efficient heating systems will result in lower heating bills. Heat pumps are much more energy-efficient than furnaces and can transfer more than 100% of the energy they consume.
- Available space – Furnaces are installed indoors, and they require a lot of space, usually a minimum 30-inch margin from the wall on all sides. Heat pumps require little space comparatively as the main unit is usually installed outside, and the smaller indoor units can be installed high up on the wall. Your AC repair company will measure the available space to determine which heating option would be most suitable.
- Noise levels – How much noise are you willing to tolerate? Over the long term, high HVAC sound levels can damage your hearing. Furnaces tend to be tucked away from the living quarters, usually the basement, while heat pumps regularly make clanking noises as their compressors power up and down.
AC Repair Company in Katy TX
Both heat pumps and furnaces are excellent home heating options. Each type works best in suitable conditions, with heat pumps being ideal for mild climates and furnaces in colder climates. If you’re having trouble deciding between the two, you could also opt for a hybrid system consisting of a heat pump and a furnace. Our technicians at Mr. Reliable Heating & Air would love to go over different heating configurations and help you choose the most suitable one. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
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