If you need to replace your current heating system it is important to weigh all factors carefully so that you choose the right system for your Asheville, North Carolina, home. Learn about the key differences between heating systems so you can decide whether a furnace or heat pump will be the right choice for your home.

Energy Source

When it comes to energy, furnaces and heat pumps don’t always draw use the same source. Furnaces can run on electricity, but they typically burn fossil fuels like natural gas or heating oil. In the Asheville area, gas furnaces are most common, but oil furnaces might also be an option if your home has an oil tank. Keep in mind that your utility company delivers natural gas continuously and charges you for use each month. A fuel company delivers oil by the tankful and bills you by the total delivered.

In contrast, heat pumps run on electricity, so they don’t need a natural gas hookup or an oil tank. Since they don’t depend on combustion, heat pumps also have a much lower risk of creating hazards like fires, explosions, and carbon monoxide leaks. If your home is set up only for one type of energy, this should factor largely into your decision between a heat pump and a furnace.

Efficiency Levels

Both types of heating systems can have varying levels of efficiency, but heat pumps tend to be more efficient than furnaces. An Energy Star label indicates the level of efficiency, and each unit should provide specifics about its typical energy consumption and utility costs on that label.

If you are considering a furnace, you’ll want to know the unit’s Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE), which reveals how efficiently the system converts fuel to heat energy. For the most efficient furnace, look for a unit with an AFUE that has a rating of 90 or higher.

If you are thinking about a heat pump, look for the unit’s Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF), which specifically measures the efficiency of air source heat pumps. HSPF ratings top out at 9.35, and higher ratings signal more efficient units. Since heat pumps also cool your home when the outdoor temperature rises, these units also have a cooling energy efficiency rating, known as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER).

Unit Lifespan

In terms of lifespan, all HVAC systems aren’t created the same. Most heat pumps last for at least 10 years before they require replacement. Furnaces last about 50 percent longer and generally require replacement after about 15 years. Though replacing your heating system does come at a cost, it offers an opportunity to take advantage of the latest technology and advances in energy efficiency.

Ideal Climate Conditions

Not all heating systems work well in every climate, but the Asheville area tends to have weather patterns that make both furnaces and heat pumps solid options for local homeowners. Furnaces can heat homes in any climate, but they work particularly well in colder conditions and during harsh winters.

While heat pumps can heat homes throughout the winter months, older models often become less efficient when temperatures dip below 32 degrees. These units will need supplemental heating to keep your home comfortable. Relying on these older models in very cold weather means that you will likely be faced with higher utility bills.

System Cost

In terms of upfront costs, heat pumps generally cost less. Heat pumps require less extensive installation. In terms of operation, the price of fuel largely determines the overall cost of heating your home. Even though the prices of gas and electricity often fluctuate, purchasing an energy-efficient unit will certainly keep energy costs lower.

The weather can also affect heating system costs since heat pumps become more expensive to operate during colder weather. Since heat pumps also cool your home in the summer, in the right conditions they can offer a cost-effective solution for both heating and cooling.

Need a second opinion as you weigh your options? Contact Gentry Heating, Inc. at 828-581-4045 to learn more so you can choose the best heating system for your home.

Image provided by Shutterstock