When homeowners need new heating systems, many of them just assume that a furnace is the best choice. After all, furnaces are extremely popular in the United States. However, there are several types of heating units to choose from, and the heat pump is one that’s worth considering. Heat pumps and furnaces differ significantly in a few key areas, but both types of systems have their advantages. If you want to choose the appliance that’s right for your home, you’ll have to consider your household situation and heating needs. While furnaces and heat pumps are both quality heating systems, one of them may be a superior choice for your family. Here, we’ll examine the pros and cons of both heat pumps and furnaces for household heating.

How Does Each System Work?

The first thing to note is that heat pumps and furnaces are fundamentally different in the way that they provide heat. Gas-powered furnaces work by burning fuel such as natural gas or propane. This combustion process heats the air before it’s distributed around your household. As for electric-powered furnaces, they create heat by blowing air directly over a hot element. Then, the heated air can be blown through the ducts and around the home. In both cases, the appliance is creating heat. Heat pumps, on the other hand, don’t create heat. Instead, they pull existing heat from the air outside your house. They achieve this using special coils with refrigerant flowing through them. Once the coils have absorbed the warmth, the heat pump can start circulating hot air.

Purchase and Installation Costs

When you’re choosing a new heating system, the prices will probably be among the first things you check. If you’re operating on a tight budget, the purchase and installation costs may even be the deciding factors. So, are heat pumps or furnaces typically more expensive to install?

In most cases, the answer is that heat pumps are more costly. Granted, the prices of heat pumps, gas furnaces, and electric furnaces can all vary quite a bit. That said, purchasing a new heat pump and having it professionally installed will usually cost you between $4,000 and $7,500. However, you can typically pick up a gas-powered furnace for between $2,250 and $4,000 or an electric furnace for between $1,200 to $6,000. As you can see, there’s a significant amount of overlap between these prices. But ultimately, the highest-end heat pumps will run you more than the highest-end furnaces. And if you prioritize frugality, you’ll have an easier time finding an inexpensive furnace than an inexpensive heat pump.

Energy Efficiency

Although heat pumps can be pricey to purchase and install, they often make up for it with superb energy efficiency. Because heat pumps absorb heat rather than create it, they don’t require as much electricity to consistently warm your living space. So, if you invest in a heat pump, you may have to pay more than you would for a furnace, but the energy savings may compensate for that difference over time.

As for furnaces, they have to use energy creating heat and distributing it around your home, whereas heat pumps only need to move the heat around. Generally, electric furnaces are significantly more efficient than gas-powered furnaces, but they still don’t match heat pumps. And if you decide to go with a gas-burning furnace, one that uses natural gas will likely be more efficient than one that uses propane.

Before any homeowner purchases a heat pump, though, they should think about the climate of their area. In places that experience extremely cold temperatures, heat pumps tend to lose much of their energy efficiency. Because there’s less heat in the air, the appliances have to work much harder to absorb it. For this reason, furnaces tend to be more efficient in places with freezing winters.


When you purchase a furnace for your home, you need to buy a separate air conditioning system as well. During the scorching summer, a furnace on its own won’t do your household much good. However, if you have a heat pump, that’s the only appliance you need for heating and cooling. By simply switching the settings on your heat pump, you can quickly transition it to cooling mode. That will reverse the flow of the refrigerant, which will allow the appliance to remove heat from your home rather than bringing in heat from outside. Essentially, a heat pump in cooling mode functions just like a traditional air conditioner. However, you don’t have to purchase an additional system or use up as much space in your house. In an areas where you frequently need your AC unit, the versatility of a heat pump can be a major benefit.

Life Expectancy

Another important factor when choosing a heating system is life expectancy. Whether you buy a furnace or a heat pump, you can increase the unit’s lifespan significantly by taking good care of it. On average, though, heat pumps tend to last for around 10 years, whereas a furnace will typically give you closer to 15. If you keep up with maintenance and don’t overwork your heating system, you might get 15 years out of a heat pump or 20 years out of a furnace. So, if you choose to invest in a heat pump, keep in mind that you may end up having to replace it a few years sooner. As long as you’re proactive about upkeep, though, the heat pump should still have a solid lifespan.

Noise Level

For some homeowners, preserving a quiet household is a high priority. If that’s the case for you, then a furnace may be a better choice than a heat pump. When both types of systems are functioning properly, the heat pump will be significantly louder. With a furnace, it should be nearly silent when it’s running smoothly. So, if you do hear loud sounds, it’s a clear indicator of a mechanical problem. Heat pumps aren’t obnoxiously loud, but the level of noise may take some getting used to.

The Verdict

Both heat pumps and furnaces are viable heating options for your home. If you’re looking to save money upfront and keep your home quiet, you’ll probably be better served by a furnace. However, if you’re looking for long-term energy savings and versatility, a heat pump will be an excellent choice. At Bernard Heating & Cooling, our team will be happy to install a quality new furnace in your home. And if you like, we can also help you determine which appliance is a better fit for your situation.

Since we opened our doors in, we at Bernard Heating & Cooling have been providing the greater Hudson area with quality services. We can assist you with many household services, including heating, cooling, indoor air quality, and ductless mini splits. Our team brings honesty, integrity, and professionalism to every job they do. Contact us at Bernard Heating & Cooling today to schedule an appointment!

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