Heating Questions

Heat Pumps vs. Furnaces: What’s Better for the Environment?

Furnaces and heat pumps both present advantages to homeowners. Furnaces tend to be better for colder climates, where more heating power is needed. Heat pumps, on the other hand, are more customizable, given that they provide cooling power as well. But what’s better for the environment? Keep reading to learn what you need to know, courtesy of our heating experts at Premier Indoor Comfort Systems.

Environmental Benefits of Heat Pumps & Furnaces

Thanks to modern advances, heat pumps and furnaces are both fairly energy-efficient. You can’t necessarily go wrong with either system, however, there are different environmental concerns to consider with both types of equipment.

So which system is actually more eco-friendly?

  • Furnaces: Before talking about the energy consumption of furnaces, we need to clarify which kind of furnace we’re dealing with. The most common type of furnace is probably the gas-powered system. A standard efficiency gas unit provides an annual fuel utilization efficiency, or AFUE rating of 80%. In these furnaces, 20% of the energy produced by natural gas is expelled as exhaust. Today’s high-efficiency gas furnaces, however, offer as much as 90-95% AFUE. Propane furnaces can have an AFUE even higher, sometimes reaching 98%. However, as high as these numbers are, they don’t compare to electric furnaces, which often have an AFUE rating of 100%. Of course, while electric furnaces do not create exhaust fumes from burning fuel, they do cost a lot more in electricity to operate. Some homeowners prefer electric furnaces though, because they are considered safer, as they do not require a combustible fuel source. The least efficient type of furnaces may be oil models, which generally have an AFUE rating of 80-90%.
  • Heat Pumps: Heat pumps use roughly a third as much electricity as baseboard electric heaters, and significantly less energy than gas or oil furnaces. Because you don’t need gas or oil to operate a heat pump, as they rely on electricity, there is also no fuel exhaust generated by heat pump use. The manufacturing cost of heat pumps, however, can create some harmful emissions, and if refrigerant from a heat pump leaks, this too has a negative impact on the environment. Some homeowners also don’t like heat pumps because they are expensive to install, and, to reiterate, do not provide as intense levels of heat as furnaces offer. However, while heat pumps were traditionally looked at as less energy-efficient because of their electricity consumption, modern heat pumps are far more energy-efficient, and it can’t be denied that their lack of a fuel source is a strong plus for the planet.

The Bottom Line

While today’s heat pumps and furnaces are both extremely energy-efficient, heat pumps ultimately hold more benefits for the environment. Fortunately, no matter what type of heating system you are dealing with, from heat pumps and furnaces to radiant floor heating and geothermal systems, you can count on Premier Indoor Comfort Systems to get the job done. Call today for heat pump repair and installation or for other types of heating repair and installation, and take advantage of our excellent financing options and discounts while you’re at it.

Call today at (770) 749-7667, or click here to send us a message online.

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