Should I Choose an Air Conditioner and Furnace or a Heat Pump System?

Hipster couple thinking about choosing an air conditioner and furnace combo or a heat pump system

Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are major home investments. If you are considering purchasing a new one, you may wonder what the differences are between buying an air conditioner and a furnace compared with buying a heat pump. Our professionals at HomeRx Heating & Air Conditioning want to help you make the best decision for your home and your family.

What is a Conventional Heating and Cooling System?

A conventional HVAC system is typically made up of two main components: a central air conditioning system that is electric, and a furnace, which may use electricity, natural gas, oil, wood, or propane to generate heat. In some climates, homeowners may only require one or the other, but not both. For instance, in cooler climates, an efficient heating system is critical during cold winters, but open windows, portable fans, and perhaps a window air conditioning unit might suffice for the summer. In warmer areas, homeowners may run their air conditioning nearly year-round and keep warm with just a space heater during the few coldest nights.

For the majority of Portland homeowners, however, both a furnace and an air conditioner are needed. Although furnaces and air conditioners work together with both systems sharing ductwork and blower fans, they are frequently stand-alone systems. The typical lifespan of both a central air conditioning system and a furnace is between 15 and 20 years, and there are some benefits to changing out both systems simultaneously. For example, if you install a high-efficiency heating system, the variable-speed motor that is part of that system will help you get the most out of a matched, high-efficiency air conditioning system.

What is Heat Pump?

A heat pump is a singular system that removes heat from one location and transfers it to another. In the summertime, the heat pump removes the heat from inside your home and deposits it outside. In the wintertime, the heat pump works in reverse; it takes the heat from outdoors and moves it inside your home. Some heat pumps can pull heat even in below-freezing temperatures, although not as efficiently.

Traditionally, heat pumps have been used in locations where winters are mild. However, the newest heat pumps perform well even in cold climates.

Benefits of Choosing a Conventional HVAC System

During winter, furnaces can do a better job in colder climates. Since heat pumps transfer heat from outdoors to inside, an extremely cold climate will have less outdoor heat to transfer indoors and will require more effort by the heat pump to do so.

Since furnaces burn fuel to generate heat, they do not depend on outdoor temperatures for warming up your Oregon home. If you live in climate zones four through seven, a furnace will likely be a better choice.

Another advantage of furnaces is they are frequently less noisy during operation than a heat pump. If quiet operation is important to you and your family, you might prefer a furnace over a heat pump.

Benefits of the Choosing a Heat Pump

Heat pumps, in general, are more energy efficient because they do not consume fuel to generate heat. This fact also makes them environmentally friendly. By design, heat pumps simply transfer heat from one area to another. As a result, heat pumps are less expensive to operate in appropriate climates.

Homeowners should consider their local utility costs to help determine the operational cost difference between heat pumps and furnaces. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homeowners may be able to save up to 50 percent in energy costs by switching to a heat pump from a conventional heating and cooling system.

We Can Answer Your Questions

Call HomeRx Heating & Air Conditioning in Portland, OR, with your questions about different air conditioning systems, furnaces, and heat pumps. Our trained professionals would be happy to talk with you about which system would be best for your home. Call at 503-479-5290 or contact us online.

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