Which Is More Efficient: Furnaces or Heat Pumps?

November 18, 2022
Heat Pump Vs. Furnace in Paxton, IL

When it comes to heating your home, you may be considering whether to install a furnace or a heat pump. Because of the way they operate, heat pumps are more efficient when the temperature is not too cold, but they lose efficiency during the worst winter days. There are ways to pair the components to maximize their efficiency throughout the year, however.

Understanding Heating Efficiency

Heat pumps work most efficiently when the temperature stays above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it dips below this temperature, heat pump efficiency starts to decline. Once outside temperatures reach about 25 degrees, they become less efficient than their natural gas furnace counterparts.

To understand this, you have to look at how efficiency is measured. For furnaces, they look at how much heat is generated, compared to how much heat is lost through the exhaust. The most efficient furnaces run at about 98.7% efficiency.

Conversely, the efficiency of heat pumps is measured as a ratio of how much electricity they use compared to the heat they produce. When operating at peak efficiency, heat pumps can generate 300% or more thermal energy than the electricity they consume. This is because the electricity goes to compress and condense refrigerant to create a heat-absorbing chemical reaction instead of generating heat through electrical resistance.

How Temperature Affects Efficiency

The outside temperature greatly affects how efficiently heat pumps run. Heat pumps lose efficiency once the outside temperature drops below 25 degrees. This is because heat pumps work by absorbing heat from the air around them, and there is less heat to absorb in this temperature range. Heat pumps in colder climates are often paired with a furnace that serves as a backup. At this temperature range, the auxiliary heat kicks in, which is usually an electric coil furnace.

You can improve your overall efficiency of a hybrid heat pump-furnace combination system by installing a dual-fuel heat pump. For the auxiliary heater, dual fuel systems use a gas furnace instead of an electric model.

When homeowners around Paxton want heating and cooling service they can trust, they call Dogtown Heating, Air & Plumbing. Our NATE-certified technicians provide heating and air conditioning installation, repair, and maintenance. We also offer a wide range of expert plumbing services. Call to schedule your heating consultation with one of our friendly installation experts today.

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