Heat Pump vs Furnace: What's Better For Me?

When the temperature outside begins to drop, your home becomes a refuge from the cold. But, without the proper heating system, you could find your home less comfortable than you would want or find yourself paying higher energy costs throughout the winter season. Choosing the right HVAC system is crucial to ensure your home is comfortable when the temperatures fall. When deciding whether to choose a heat pump vs furnace, it is vital to understand the expenses, installation requirements and the pros and cons of each.

At Superior Home Supplies, we know how vital the right HVAC system is to your home and strive to help homeowners find the best system to suit their heating and cooling needs. Read on to learn more about heat pump vs furnace, or contact the experienced professionals at Superior Home Supplies today to find the best option for you.

Which is Better: a Heat Pump or a Furnace?

Heat pump vs furnace: Which option will provide you with the heating you need to keep your home at a comfortable and consistent temperature during the winter? To make the right decision, knowing how each one works to heat your home is essential.

What is a Heat Pump?

Whether looking at a furnace vs heat pump or an electric furnace vs heat pump, it is crucial to know what a heat pump is and how it functions. While there are different types of heat pumps, a heat pump is essentially another type of split HVAC system that can be used as a cooling system and for home heating. It functions as an air conditioner in the summer, while in the winter months, it is an efficient and effective heating system.

A heat pump system contains an indoor air unit and an outdoor unit connected through your home's wall. During the winter, the heat pump will pull heat from the outdoor air and transfer heat through refrigerant, delivering it through the ductwork in your home. In the summer months, the process is reversed, and hot air is removed from your home and moved outside.

When comparing and contrasting heat pumps and furnace systems, many homeowners may opt for a heat pump if they don’t already have an air conditioner in place due to its dual functionality. Heat pumps allow homeowners to maintain year-round temperature control with one energy-efficient unit. Models such as the Goodman 18 SEER 3.0 TON Complete Split Two-Stage Heat Pump System are designed to function as the entire HVAC system in your home, delivering heat in the winter and cooled air in the summer. However, electric heat strips may need to be added to the heat pump if you live in areas with colder temperatures.

How do Heat Pumps Work?

In understanding a furnace vs a heat pump, knowing how the heat energy transfer process works and how a heat pump works are vital in making a decision. In summer, a heat pump will work like an air conditioner unit. It utilizes refrigerant to absorb the heat inside your home and transfer the warm air outside, where it is vented. The absorption and transfer process is possible because of the changing pressure of the refrigerant. The refrigerant has higher energy than the surrounding outside air, which allows it to pass the heat into the air surrounding it, it will then cool down, recondense and start the process again.

In the winter months, the pump will essentially work in reverse. The outdoor air will have higher energy than the low-pressure cold refrigerant, allowing the refrigerant to absorb the heat and evaporate. The refrigerant will then be pressurized, and the temperature will increase, where the heat from outside will be released indoors. The refrigerant will then condense back into a liquid and return outside.

You can choose from air-source heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps, and water-source heat pumps, depending on the area where you live and the upfront cost you are willing to pay for installation.

What is a Gas Furnace?

Natural gas furnaces are one of the most common types of heat sources found in homes. So if you decide between heat pump vs gas furnace, you will want to know why it is one of the most common options.

Gas furnaces are a type of home heating that burn natural gas by igniting it to warm up the air and transfer it throughout your home. Gas furnaces require the synchronization of multiple parts working together to complete the process. Some of these parts include a thermostat, blower, heat exchanges, fan, and flue.

How do Furnaces Work?

Gas furnaces work seamlessly to deliver even heating throughout your home as long as all components work together. You will need to understand how a furnace works when deciding between heat pump vs furnace so you will know how the parts function and what type of repairs or maintenance may be required.

Step 1

The first part of the heat process is the thermostat signaling to the heater that hot air is needed in the home.

Step 2:

After the thermostat sends the signal to the heater, a valve will open, allowing natural gas to direct toward the burner. The blower will then kick on and move the incoming air through the ductwork toward the burner to be warmed up.

Step 3

As the gas travels to the burner, a pilot light will ignite in the combustion chamber. The natural gas will feed the burner, and the air will pass over it warming up before being delivered to the home through the ductwork.

Step 4

The final step before the air is delivered into your home is cleaning the air and separating it from the waste. The air will travel through a hot-air plenum, where the flue will capture the exhaust and transfer it outside the home so that only healthy air travels through the ductwork.

Heat Pump vs Furnace: Which Should I Install?

Whether you are considering a furnace vs heat pump or an electric furnace vs heat pump, it is essential to consider how the pros and cons of each will affect your specific heating and home comfort needs. One of the first things to consider with a heat pump vs furnace is how each operates. To generate heat, a gas furnace will need to burn combustible fuel such as gas or propane. A heat pump will use a thermodynamic principle, transferring heat indoors and outside using refrigerant lines.

Another consideration to make when considering a heat pump vs furnace is how comfortable it will keep your home during the colder months. In colder temperatures, you may be better served by a furnace as they are considered the most efficient heating method for Climate Zones 4 through 7.

If you are interested in an electric furnace vs heat pump, then they would be best to consider in more temperate climates, such as Climate Zones 1 through 3. Since the temperatures outside in these zones don’t get as frigid, heat pumps and electric furnaces can be the two most energy-efficient options for heating.

Another thing to consider with furnaces vs heat pumps is the amount of space each one will take up. With a furnace, you will need more space to have it installed and space outside if you pair it with an air conditioning system. Heat pumps provide heating and cooling in smaller units that can fit better in tight spaces.

Requirements to Install a Heat Pump

The heat pump vs. furnace requirements should also play a role in your decision-making process. There are several requirements to consider when installing a heat pump. A manual J load calculation will need to be performed to ensure that you choose properly-sized equipment. The load calculation will consist of measurements, including

  • Insulation thickness
  • The number of windows in the home
  • The square footage
  • The types of doors
  • The square footage of the crawl space
  • How many people are in the home
  • The size of rooms without ductwork
  • The height of ceilings
  • The type of foundation

Another thing to consider when understanding the gas furnace vs heat pump installation requirements is the line sets and additional wiring you may need for a heat pump. There needs to be two sets of lines to operate the heat pump. The larger line is the suction line, and the smaller one is the liquid one. These copper lines will run from the outdoor unit to the indoor evaporator coil.

Additionally, there needs to be a low-voltage control wire that will run from the thermostat to the heat pump. If your thermostat is not designed to trigger the reversing valve on your heat pump, you may also need to install a sensor to complete this function.

Requirements to Install a Gas Furnace

The requirements to install a gas furnace are also critical when deciding between heat pump vs gas furnace. Some of the requirements you will need when installing a gas furnace are:

  • A proper-sized furnace based on the load calculation in your home.
  • Proper-sized ductwork to ensure consistent heat transfer to all areas in the house.
  • Enough space to place the furnace and connect the components to it.
  • Gas lines and electrical wiring that are up to the current code.
  • A chimney flue liner and PVC drain line if it is the first time you are having a furnace installed, or the previous ones are old or damaged.

Cost Analysis: Furnace vs Heat Pump

When it comes down to making your final decision between a heat pump or a furnace, it is best to perform a cost analysis to see which option will help you save money and fit into your budget. Things to consider in your cost analysis include the following:

  • Installation costs: Installation costs can be an important consideration, especially if it is the first time you are installing a heating system in your home.
  • Operating costs: The energy costs associated with operating a heat pump vs furnace could play a vital role in your cost calculation. More energy-efficient models can help you save money on energy bills to offset installation costs.
  • Maintenance costs: You will also want to consider how often each system will need maintenance and the costs it will take to keep them well-maintained.


  • There are important considerations to weigh when choosing between a heat pump vs furnace, such as the cost and energy efficiency levels. Less energy means less money on utility bills.
  • Climate will play a vital role in your heat choices as heat pumps are more energy efficient in temperate climates, and furnaces are often needed in colder climates.
  • Heat pump installation requirements are often more significant if switching from a furnace to a heat pump unless you are upgrading a gas furnace in a home with outdated wiring and gas lines.

Heat Pump vs Furnace: Let the Professionals at Superior Home Supplies Help You Decide

Heat pump vs furnace or electric furnace vs heat pump? You don’t have to make the decision alone. Let the experienced professionals at Superior Home Supplies help you find a new heat option for your home. Contact us today to discuss your home heating needs or ask questions about different furnace and heat pump models.

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