Are you in the market for a new household HVAC system? If so, it’s important that you’re fully informed about your options. The biggest decision you’ll need to make is whether you want to invest in a heat pump or a traditional HVAC system. Truthfully, there’s no right or wrong answer that applies to every home. Both routes have their pros and cons, and you have to evaluate your own situation to figure out which type of system is the best fit. The best way to make that decision is to learn about what each choice will bring to the table.

Differences in Heating

The differences between heat pumps and traditional HVAC systems begin with the methods they use to heat your home. With traditional systems, the heating is handled by either a gas-burning or an electric furnace unit. The former creates heat through an ongoing process of combustion. Essentially, it burns fuel and circulates the resulting heat around your house. Electric furnaces, on the other hand, work in a similar way to how your hair dryer works; they blow air over a hot element before distributing the air to your living space.

Instead of creating heat, heat pumps use warmth that already exists. Using coils that are installed outside of your home, they absorb heat from the outdoor air. After they’ve absorbed it, they simply need to push it around to the different parts of the house. It’s worth noting that because these pumps need existing heat to provide warmth, they tend to be less effective and efficient in exceptionally cold climates.

Differences in Cooling

When it comes to cooling, there are also differences between heat pumps and traditional systems. If your home uses a heat pump, it will be the one appliance that’s responsible for both heating and cooling. With a traditional HVAC system, however, you’ll need to have a separate air conditioning unit to do the cooling. That being said, the methods the two appliances use for producing cool air are the same.

Both heat pumps and air conditioners work by pulling air into their coils, which contain liquid refrigerant. When that air passes through the coils, it gets cooled down by the refrigerant. For traditional AC units, this is the method used at all times. Heat pumps, though, switch between heating and cooling modes, depending on the needs of your home. To do this, they reverse the pressure and flow of the refrigerant through their coils.

Because heat pumps can, in a way, do the jobs of two appliances, they tend to save homeowners some money by eliminating the need to purchase a separate cooling system. However, that isn’t the only way that heat pumps can save you money.

Heat Pumps Are Usually Cheaper to Operate

On average, it costs far less in electricity to operate a heat pump than it does to operate a traditional HVAC unit. Granted, because the two kinds of systems use the same cooling method, there shouldn’t be much difference during the spring or summer. However, when the time comes for heating, having a heat pump will, in most climates, save you quite a bit of money when compared to a furnace.

The difference in energy costs comes down to creating heat versus transferring it. Propane-burning furnaces, over the course of a full winter, will cost about three times more to operate than heat pumps. Furnaces that use natural gas or electricity to create heat, on the other hand, will typically cost about twice as much as a heat pump during that same time frame. These are just averages; factors such as the climate of your area, utility costs, and the condition of your HVAC unit can all change these figures. If you’re looking for more affordable heating bills, though, a heat pump will be your best bet most of the time.

Traditional HVAC Systems Are Quieter

If you place a high value on the peace and quiet of your household, a heat pump may not be the right choice. Even when everything is functioning smoothly, heat pumps tend to make lots of noise. Usually, this noise comes in the form of clicking and knocking sounds from the pump’s air handler while the compressor circulates refrigerant.

Traditional HVAC systems, though, will generally be very quiet when they’re running smoothly. If you ever hear loud noises coming from your furnace or air conditioner, it likely means that something’s malfunctioning with the equipment. Plus, standard HVAC systems are usually located far from your living space, most likely in the basement or utility room. So, even if they do make noise, most of your house will remain peaceful.

Heat Pumps Save Indoor Space

Furnaces, which need to be installed indoors, require a 30-inch clearance on all sides to alleviate the risk of fires. As a result, they take up quite a bit of space inside your home. Heat pump systems, on the other hand, consist of an outdoor compressor and an indoor air handler. The compressor requires a 24-inch clearance, but it doesn’t take up any room inside. The air handler does need to be installed indoors, but since it doesn’t generate heat, there’s no need for any safety clearance. Some air handlers can even be mounted up on the wall, taking up very little of your living space. So, if your home’s interior has limited space available, you may want to consider that issue when deciding on an HVAC system.

The Effects of a Freezing Climate

In most climates, heat pumps will be more energy efficient than traditional systems, at least when it comes to heating. However, if you live somewhere that sees temperatures below freezing regularly, that may not be the case. Because heat pumps must pull existing heat from outside, they have trouble when there isn’t much heat to absorb. They can still do their job when it’s freezing out, but they won’t be as effective, and they’ll require more energy. With furnaces, though, the heating process doesn’t change with the weather.

In a cold area like Cobourg, a furnace that uses electricity or natural gas to create heat may actually be more efficient than a heat pump. This doesn’t need to be a dealbreaker if you’re leaning towards a heat pump, but the climate of your area is definitely worth considering before you come to a decision.

For more than 15 years, Comfort Zone Heating & Air Conditioning has provided dependable heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services to the greater Cobourg area. Our team also works with ductless systems and water heaters.

As a locally owned and operated company, we take pride in always putting our customers first. Additionally, we offer quality and satisfaction guarantees, as it’s important to us that you get what you pay for. Because we love our community, we sponsor local hockey teams, participate in YMCA sponsorship, and annually donate to the Giving Tree during the holidays. If you’d like to enlist our services, give us a call at Comfort Zone Heating & Air Conditioning today!

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