How to Know Which Heating Option Is Best for Your Home

HVAC services

Gas furnaces, electric furnaces, and heat pumps are all effective options for keeping your home warm over the winter. However, each type of unit does have its pros and cons, so it’s important that you think carefully about which option you choose. To make your decision easier, here is an overview of how heat pumps and furnaces compare in terms of effectiveness, energy efficiency, and other important factors.

Heating Effectiveness

A gas furnace will always heat your home more quickly than any other option because gas furnaces produce a substantial amount of heat. Electric furnaces and heat pumps produce less heat so it will take them longer to fully bring your home up to temperature. If your home was quite cold when you turned your heating system on, it would take quite a bit more time to fully heat your home with a heat pump than if you had a gas or electric furnace.

This is an important thing to consider for people who live in much colder climates, but it doesn’t matter nearly as much in warmer places like Southern California. In our area, all three options will be more than sufficient to fully and effectively meet your heating needs since your home will rarely ever get that cold.

Energy Efficiency

One of the most important things to think about when choosing a new heating unit is how energy efficient it is and how much you can expect your heating costs to be. In terms of energy efficiency, no other option even comes close to comparing to a heat pump. Electric furnaces are fairly efficient, but they also use a huge amount of electricity and cost far more to operate than gas furnaces or heat pumps. Gas furnaces are less energy efficient than electric units, but they still cost less to run since they work much more effectively.

In warmer climates, heat pumps are typically around three times more energy efficient than any type of furnace. In most cases, your heating costs will be about half as much with a heat pump than if you had any type of furnace.

Installation Cost

Electric furnaces are always the least expensive option to purchase and install. The upfront cost for a gas furnace or a heat pump is usually fairly comparable, but it depends on the specific type, brand, and model you choose. However, simply comparing the installation cost of a furnace and a heat pump doesn’t really tell the full story. If you choose a furnace, you’ll also want to consider the eventual cost of replacing your central AC unit.

This is where a heat pump has a massive advantage since the same unit will heat your home in the winter and provide air conditioning during the hotter months. This makes a heat pump much more cost-effective compared to installing a furnace and separate AC unit.

Life Expectancy

On average, electric furnaces have the longest life expectancy of any heating unit and will typically work effectively for at least 20 to 30 years. The life expectancy of a gas furnace usually ranges from 15 to 20 years depending on whether it is a single-stage, two-stage, or variable-speed unit. Variable-speed furnaces typically have the longest lifespan, but they also cost much more upfront.

The life expectancy of a heat pump is usually between 10 and 15 years, but it can vary much more than for a furnace. A heat pump will almost always have a shorter lifespan than a furnace since it also works to cool your home, but how long your unit will last really depends on how much use it gets.

Theoretically, a heat pump used primarily for heating should last at least as long as, if not longer than, a furnace. However, in the Orange County area, heat pumps are predominantly used for cooling, resulting in more annual operating hours compared to a furnace. This higher usage may lead to a shorter lifespan. Nevertheless, the superior energy efficiency and ability to provide both heating and cooling help compensate for their reduced longevity.

With over 40 years of experience, Alps Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. is your trusted choice for heating, air conditioning, and indoor air quality in Anaheim and Orange County. We offer top brands like Lennox, Daikin, Trane, and Ruud, along with service and repair for all residential HVAC equipment. Join our Comfort Club for extra benefits. Contact us to discover the best heating and cooling options for your home.