If you’re looking to upgrade your heating system before winter strikes, you’re almost out of time! When it comes to heating your home, you have a couple of options: a furnace or a heat pump. Which one should you choose? Is one better than the other? At Steve’s Plumbing and Heating, we get a lot of questions from homeowners who aren’t sure which heating option is best suited to their home. We’ve put together this brief breakdown of the differences between a heat pump and a furnace and what you should consider when making your decision.


What’s the Difference Between a Heat Pump and Furnace?

A heat pump generates warm air, much like an air conditioner generates cool air—only in reverse. It pulls air in from the outside, warms it, and then funnels it indoors toward specific locations. A heat pump operates using electricity, so it typically produces less heat than a furnace. One substantial perk of a heat pump is its ability to function as both a heating and cooling unit.


A furnace—which most central Wisconsin homes use—generates heat by burning fuel. As a result of the combustion process contained within the unit, furnace heat is typically far warmer than that produced by a heat pump. With a furnace installed, a home will also require a separate air conditioning unit. When comparing the two, a few things to consider include energy efficiency, heat output, and longevity.


Efficiency in Cold Weather

In sub-freezing weather, a heat pump may not be capable of producing the quantity of warm air the typical central Wisconsin home requires. Because the unit pulls air in from the outside, it can struggle when temperatures dip below freezing. Depending on how warm you prefer your home, a heat pump may not suit your needs. However, heat pumps are also used to augment the energy efficiency of HVAC setups, so you might consider it as an add-on.


Furnaces, on the other hand, burn fuel to generate heat. In freezing weather, they’re capable of producing substantial warm air—enough to heat an entire house. The warm air a furnace generates is much more drying than that produced by a heat pump. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, a furnace may present a problem. A whole-home humidifier can be a useful addition in such cases.


Energy Efficiency

Because a heat pump operates using electricity, it is far more energy-efficient than a furnace. As mentioned, many homeowners choose to improve the efficiency of their current furnace by adding a heat pump, which helps to cut down on fuel usage.


Furnaces, on the other hand, use substantial fuel, making them far less energy efficient than heat pumps. But with the amount and temperature of the air they produce, many homeowners opt for reduced energy efficiency in favor of improved comfort during the winter. Combining the two systems can give you the best of both worlds: improved energy efficiency and an all-around comfortable living environment.


Maintenance and Lifespan

A properly maintained furnace will last approximately 20 years, compared to the 15-year lifespan of the typical heat pump. Since a heat pump can also function as an air conditioner, it typically sees far more use than a furnace, which generally results in increased maintenance. As well, a heat pump has far more mechanical parts than a furnace, so the chance for malfunction is higher. That said, if you’re looking for an all-in-one unit to cut down on furnace and air conditioner maintenance, a heat pump may be a more comprehensive option.


Contact Steve’s Plumbing & Heating For Your Heating Needs

If you’ve been debating which type of heating unit you should add to your home, at Steve’s Plumbing and Heating, we can help. Whether you’re looking to improve the efficiency of your current HVAC setup, or you need your heating system repaired, we’ll ensure your home remains comfortable all winter long. With our straightforward pricing and satisfaction guarantee, you can trust in our transparent, honest work, and our dedication to a job well done. To learn more about our heating services or for any other questions, contact our team today. Or, if you’re ready to get started, feel free to request your free estimate.