Furnace vs. heat pump … what’s the best solution for you here in the Raleigh area, and why?
There are pros and cons to both, and it’s not a decision to be made lightly.
Before we can tell you whether to get a gas furnace or heat pump, it would help if we briefly explain the difference between the two! The way a gas furnace works is, as the name suggests, by having gas (or propane) ignite in the burner. This heats up a series of metal tubes called a heat exchanger, and air that passes over the heat exchanger gets hot. The hot air is circulated throughout your home to warm it up! That’s simple enough, but how is a heat pump different? Well, it doesn’t use fuel to create heat. Instead, it actually draws heat from the air outdoors, even if it’s cold outside. When this heat gets into the heat pump’s refrigeration coolant, it is under pressure that increases the heat a lot. That’s how a heat pump creates hot air!
Furnace or heat pump? Depends on climate
So, what does that little HVAC lesson teach you about which option is best for your home? Well, as you would expect, a heat pump works best in warmer climates because — although it can siphon heat from cold air outside — it works a lot more effectively if the air outside isn’t freezing cold, the way it is up north! A heat pump will still work even if the air is below freezing, but it works less and less efficiently, the colder it is outside. Of course, that’s not something you want for a cold climate! But what kind of climate do we have here in Raleigh? Unfortunately, our climate is right on the cusp of what the U.S. Department of Energy considers “cold” and “hot.” According to them, states in climate zones 1 – 3 are perfect for heat pumps, and states in climate zones 4 – 7 are better for furnaces. North Carolina is split into climate zone 3 AND 4, so like we said, that’s pretty much the most in between result possible! We knew our weather was wishy-washy, but this is just ridiculous!
So, what do you do?
Local climate usually provides a definitive answer as to whether residents should get a heat pump or a furnace. But in this case, you can’t use the climate to make a determination! Some years when it’s warmer, the heat pump would be the most efficient option, and some years when it’s colder, the gas furnace would be the most efficient option.
Talk to a professional heating contractor in Raleigh
We know you were probably hoping for a one-size-fits-all answer, but here in Raleigh, the decision of whether to install a heat pump or gas furnace should really be made on a case-by-case basis, according to your needs as a homeowner. We want to help you determine what’s best for you and your family personally! Just give us a call at (919) 853-7910 or contact us online, and we’d be happy to help you make the final call.