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Heat Pump vs. Furnace, Which Is Better? | Howell's Heating & Air

Posted by Howell's Heating & Air on January 11, 2018

Women looking out of window as it snows on a cold dayIn Central Virginia's climate,  the ideal scenario is to have a furnace serve as the alternative heat source when you have a heat pump system.  Installing both a heat pump and furnace is not always financially feasible. In this article, we’ll discuss a few factors that will help settle the heat pump vs furnace argument and hopefully lead you to the right decision.

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The Best Heat Choice Depends on Your Home

Are you building a new house, or will you be replace a unit that already has some infrastructure like vents or radiators to distribute the heat? Are gas lines available in your neighborhood? Is your home already equipped with gas? Is your home particularly drafty? All of these factors and others must be considered before determining the best heating solution for your particular home. Ultimately, when you are comparing a heat pump vs. furnace you have to think long term.

If You Live in Central Virginia, Consider Buying a Heat Pump Before a Furnace. Here’s why.

A heat pump has the added benefit of providing cold air in the summer and does a sufficient job of keeping a home warm throughout most winter months. For those living in Central Virginia, this means that a heat pump can be equipped with a supplemental heat source for those few times a year when the weather is unusually cold.


Most find that running a furnace, even a gas furnace, from October to April is more expensive than running a heat pump with supplemental heat. 

Heat Pump Efficiency vs. Oil & Gas Furnace

To only compare a heat pump vs. furnace would not be an informative as there are several different furnace types. For this section we’ll look at a heat pump vs. gas furnace and a heat pump vs. oil furnace as those are the predominant furnace types in Central Virginia.

Heat pumps are generally more efficient than furnaces anyway, especially in mildly cold weather. They’re especially more efficient and cleaner than oil furnaces since you have to burn oil to power the furnace. When oil runs out you have to buy it again. Surprisingly heat pumps still perform more efficiently than most gas furnaces as well. If you recall, we mentioned that you should be thinking long term when deciding heat pump vs. furnace. For heat pumps there is no risk of carbon monoxide leaks, they are quieter, and typically much cleaner than gas furnaces. Many argue that furnaces are better than heat pumps when the outside temperature drops below 35 degrees, but there is still some disagreement on that debate.

It doesn’t require a great deal of energy to run a compressor and two fans, which is basically all a heat pump needs to do in order to generate heat. However, heat pump efficiency decreases as temperatures drop. The particular temperature threshold when a furnace becomes more efficient than a heat pump depends on the system, the house, and various other factors. Since Central Virginia is not known for long grueling winters there are more benefits to investing in a heat pump than a furnace.

Learn More About Heat Pumps & Furnaces

If you’re thinking about purchasing a heat pump system, be sure to check out our RVA Heat Pump Buying Guide. In our guide we’ll take you through the overall heat pump cost and break down the heat pump installation cost as well. We service and install both heat pumps and furnaces throughout the Greater Richmond Area.

Heat Pump Rebates

There are many incentives available to help assist you in making the transition to a more efficient heating source. Howell's Heating & Air is proud to be a participating sponsor of Dominion Energy's Smart Cooling Rewards program

We'd love to help you in the debate of heat pump vs. furnace. We’ll provide you with more information about the differences in cost, efficiency, best manufacturers, and any other information that will help you make the best decision.

Want to know which option is best for the optimal comfort of your family and home? Contact us online or schedule an appointment with our one of our comfort experts. 

What's more, we can also offer our expert advice on other matters. We're also highly dedicated AC repair specialists in Richmond and the region, offering specialized AC repair & support in Mechanicsville, Ashland, and around. Contact us at any time!

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Topics: heat pump, furnace, Gas Furnace, heat pump estimate

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