When building a home or considering new heating and cooling needs, deciding whether you want to go with a furnace or a heat pump can be the fulcrum in determining how efficient your home will be. Over the last couple of decades heat pumps have become quite prevalent and, for the most part, were deemed to be more efficient. As time and technology have progressed furnaces have become more and more efficient. Herein lies the conundrum. Which do you go with for maximum efficiency and cost?


So older furnaces are notorious for being massively inefficient. However, in the last 10 or 15 years furnaces have become increasingly efficient. Some models boast up to 98% efficiency. That means that 98% of the energy used is to make or distribute heat. That’s pretty impressive.

A furnace will use clean-burning natural gas, biodiesel (oil) or electricity, whereas a heat pump must constantly use electricity to maintain the temperature you want in your home. Furnaces are far quieter than heat pumps, though heat pumps are generally kept outside. Heat pumps often have improperly installed compressors, leaky ducts or the wrong levels of refrigerant.


Though heat pumps have their faults, they also have exquisite features that can make you second-guess furnaces. Heat pumps use no fuel, solely electricity to run and keep your home at the proper temperature. If you live where electricity rates are lower, a heat pump might be a great option for you. A moderate climate is one that heat pumps do well in.

If a winter day seldom gets below 40 degrees Fahrenheit a heat pump could help keep your energy costs down while keeping your home comfortable. One of the greatest things about heat pumps is that they are your air conditioning unit as well. Unlike furnaces, you won’t need a separate unit to keep your home cool in the summer. Heat pumps act as reverse air conditioners in the cooler months.


Furnaces use fuel. Fuel is expensive. There are no two ways about it. Carbon Dioxide is a byproduct of furnaces and if not vented properly can harm your family. Some furnaces also use arc-technology to light the flame that helps warm the air. This is a risk. Like many other risks, installing a heat pump in an extremely cold climate will probably not bode well for you. Since heat pumps pull the warmth from the outside air, there’s not much of that if your daily temperature is 20-30 degrees.


Either one of these units is a great buy…depending on where you live and how much energy costs are in your region. In some regions, gas is way more expensive than electric and vice versa.