Charlotte area homeowners are lucky to have mild weather for much of the year. In the winter, temperatures can fall below freezing, but usually for only short periods of time. This gives residents a choice between using a heat pump or a furnace for winter heating.
How Furnaces Work
Furnaces send heat throughout the home in one of two ways. Forced air furnaces directly heat air and send it into each room through a vent system. Other furnaces heat an intermediary fluid such as air, steam or water which is then pumped through pipes into a radiator in each room. Furnaces can be fueled by oil, natural gas or electricity, and they heat the air or intermediary fluid with a flame.
How Heat Pumps Work
Heat pumps work by transferring heat in a manner similar to a refrigerator. During winter, they capture heat from the outside air and pump it into the inside air handler where it heats the air flowing through your home. Heat pumps are always powered by electricity.
When to Choose a Heat Pump
The two main considerations in choosing a heat pump are operating cost and average winter temperature. Typically, natural gas is the cheapest power source, followed by electricity, and then oil. If you use an oil-fueled furnace, converting to a heat pump may lower your energy costs. Your HVAC contractor can help you compare the energy costs for heat pumps and furnaces in your area based on local rates. Remember also that heat pumps also provide cooling, so there may be additional installation and maintenance savings from having a combined heating and cooling unit.
However, if you live in a colder area with temperatures frequently below 40 degrees, a heat pump may not be for you. Because they draw heat from the outside air, heat pumps lose efficiency below this temperature and need a backup option to help them maintain a comfortable temperature. In these areas, a furnace is often best.
For more information on heat pump or furnace installation, contact All Temp Co., Inc. Air Conditioning and Heating.