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Heat Pump vs. Furnace: Which Is the Best Heating System for Your Home?

heat pumps

With winter quickly approaching, you may be thinking about having your heating system upgraded to heat your home properly. Should you install a new gas or electric furnace or replace yours with a heat pump?

With so many heating options available, knowing which one would be best for your household can be challenging. That’s why we created this short guide on the differences between heat pumps vs. furnaces. Hopefully, after looking over a breakdown of these systems, you will have a better idea of which type of heating system you should install in your house.

What Is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump works by moving heat inside or outside your home, depending on the season. This means a heat pump can function as both a heater and an air conditioner, warming your home in the winter and then cooling it in the summer. The thermostat monitors whether heat needs to be pulled from outside (or the ground) to heat the house or whether warm air needs to be pushed out of the home. This unit is highly versatile and energy-efficient; however, it has a lifespan of 10-15 years.

What Is a Furnace?

A furnace, however, generates heat by burning fuel. The warm air is then distributed throughout the house. 

The fuel can be natural gas or electricity. Once heated, the heat exchanger and blower fan (two of the furnace components) push the air into the home. Furnaces heat homes quickly and require minimal maintenance, and they can also last up to 20-30 years.

Heat Pump or Furnace: Factors to Consider

Now that you know how heat pumps and furnaces work, let’s look at the factors you will want to consider before choosing one unit over the other.

Installation Costs

Before deciding which system you should have installed, you will need to consider the installation costs. Heat pumps are generally more expensive to install than furnaces because they have both heating and cooling capabilities.

You’ll also want to consider your home’s current HVAC system. One unit may be cheaper to install than the other, depending on this. For example, if you have a natural gas line or already have an air conditioner in good condition, a furnace may be the best choice. However, if you do not have access to natural gas or need a new air conditioner, a heat pump could be a better option.

Operation Costs

While furnaces are cheaper to install, they cost more to operate than heat pumps. Gas furnaces are a slightly more cost-effective option for heating your house as compared to an electric model. However, while they cost more to run, furnaces require fewer maintenance appointments since they are used only through late fall and winter rather than year-round like a heat pump. So, you will need to take this into account when choosing between a furnace vs. heat pump.


Because a heat pump simply transfers heated air (versus generating it like a furnace), it is more efficient than a furnace. This means your monthly utility bills will be lower with a heat pump vs. a furnace.

If you’re leaning towards choosing a furnace over a heat pump, you may want to consider installing an electric furnace over a gas model because electric furnaces are more efficient than gas.


As we mentioned earlier, furnaces can last longer than heat pumps. This is because heat pumps are used year-round, while furnaces are used for only a few months at a time. Plus, furnaces are often kept in climate-controlled locations, such as the basement, which helps extend its life. Of course, a heater will only be useful if it’s properly manufactured and maintained, and if maintenance is ignored, its expected lifespan will significantly decrease.


One of the most important factors to consider when choosing between a furnace and heat pump is your location. If you live somewhere with a mild climate, a heat pump may be a good option because this type of heater does not work well in freezing temperatures, and it will often turn off or go into defrost cycle until temperatures warm up again. If you live somewhere where average winter temperatures are 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit, you will not have to worry about this.

Alternatively, if you live somewhere with a cold climate where temperatures are often below freezing, a furnace would be the best choice for your household. It is located indoors and generates its own heat, so it doesn’t need a defrost cycle.

Choosing a Heat Pump or Furnace

Heat pumps and furnaces are both great options for heating your home. However, one system may be better than the other for you. To ensure you select the best heating system, consult a local HVAC expert. Our team at Curtis Total Service will give you a customized recommendation based on your preferences and household needs.

In addition to advice on types of heating systems to install, we also provide furnace repair in Allentown, PA, and air duct cleaning in Easton. For more information about our services, contact us today!