What’s the Difference Between Furnaces and Heat Pumps?

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If you’re a homeowner, there are some important qualities to consider when choosing a heating system for your house. You may come across the option of using a furnace or a heat pump. But what are the differences between these two systems? They both accomplish the same goal of providing your house with heat, but how are they different? How do you decide between a furnace and a heat pump?

Here, you will learn the pros and cons of each one. Find out their biggest differences and see which system is best for your home.

Heat pumps transfer heat while furnaces create heat.

This is one of the major differences as far as functionality. If you don’t know what the differences are between furnaces and heat pumps, there are professionals who can help you navigate this. Lunsford Air Conditioning and Heating offers services for installing the best heating system for your property. You’ll find that with an electric furnace, heat is created through electricity and distributed throughout the home. Meanwhile, a heat pump system works like an air conditioner but in reverse. It uses electricity to transfer heat, taking outside air and distributing it indoors.

For colder climates, it may be better to choose a furnace.


Since heat pumps take outside air to use indoors, if it’s cold outside, using a heat pump can become less efficient due to the lower temperatures. Even when it’s below freezing, it will still be capable of transferring heat, but it might be better to choose a furnace instead because it generates heat. Generally, it is safe to say that a heat pump works better in warmer climates because it offers the ability to transfer cool air as well. With the heat pump, you can reverse the process and keep your home cool.

Furnaces can run on gas, oil, or electricity.

Another key difference between heat pumps and furnaces is the fact that heat pumps run solely on electricity. This is possible because a heat pump does not need to generate any heat on its own. Heat pumps move heat and can be energy-efficient in warm climates. Meanwhile, furnaces can run on different sources of fuel. Old homes tend to have the kind that burns natural gas or oil. Essentially, it uses the combustion of these materials to generate heated air. Because it uses fuel, it tends to blow out warmer air than a heat pump.

Heat pumps cost less to install but require more maintenance.


As mentioned above, heat pumps are great options for homeowners in warmer climates. This is because residents there won’t experience extremely cold temperatures. Transferring heat from outside doesn’t warm up your home as much, but because it’s essentially an air conditioning unit, it will require more maintenance or upkeep. It uses refrigerant lines to either keep a room cool or slowly warm it up. If you’re looking to install a heat pump for your home, Lunsford Air Conditioning and Heating provides exactly the right services for you. They also offer maintenance and repair in case you run into any issues with your heat pump.

Furnaces take up a lot of space.

As something that actively generates heat through combustion or electricity, there are building codes to take into account. For most places, furnaces have to be 30 inches from any wall. Accounting for enough space is mostly because it can be hazardous to have a heat source too close to a wall. Thankfully, furnaces have become more energy-efficient over the years.

These are the main differences between furnaces and heat pumps. As a homeowner, you should evaluate the climate, the size of your home, and whether you are looking for solutions that allow cooling as well. Now that you know the differences between the two, it’s time to contact your local cooling and heating company!

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