Heat Pump vs. Furnace: Should You Opt For Natural Gas or Electricity to Heat Your Home?

If you’re looking for the best heating unit to keep your home warm, there are several options on the market. One of the classic options is a furnace, which uses a natural gas flame to heat air and then spread that hot air around your home. If you want to go super “old school,” there’s also always a wood-burning stove.

heat pump vs furnace


Another option, however, is a heat pump. Heat pumps are like reverse air conditioners, drawing heat from outside and converting the heat into indoor warmth. If you’re looking to install a new heating system, which one works best for you? First, you need to ask yourself some questions.



  1. Should I use an electric heat pump or a natural gas furnace?

While furnaces usually run on natural gas, heat pumps run entirely on electricity. While neither is “better,” each one can provide benefits based on your own needs. Some areas of the United States may not have easy access to natural gas, making an electric heat pump a more desirable option.


Other areas may have very high electricity rates, making a gas furnace seem like a better idea. Take a brief look at your energy options: do you have access to natural gas and electricity? Which one is more costly for you? There is also the danger of carbon monoxide to consider. When natural gas or oil burns within a furnace, it produces carbon monoxide.


While furnaces have mechanisms to filter out carbon monoxide, they can still leak this dangerous gas when old or broken. Gas-burning furnaces, or anything that burns gas, can also pose a fire risk due to the internal flame.


Finally, burning fossil fuels is also harder on the environment, and is itself a limited resource. These issues can be entirely avoided by relying on electricity through your heat pump.




  1. What kind of climate do I live in?

Another factor to consider is your climate. Heat pumps were actually originally designed for the coastal United States, especially California. Because they draw heat from outside, heat pumps only truly work at temperatures above freezing, and they work best at temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.


A heat pump is perfect for those chilly California winters where your toes are cold at night, but there’s no ice hanging from your doorway. If you deal with snow, icy temperatures, or anything below freezing, a furnace is the better choice.


Is a heat pump more efficient?

Overall, heat pumps can be more efficient and less expensive than a gas-burning furnace. They also avoid the danger of carbon monoxide, pose less of a fire risk, and don’t use fossil fuels.


Because they use the same technology, heat pumps can sometimes even be converted to work as air conditioners, saving you an extra bit of hardware! However, they aren’t designed for everyone—if you experience below freezing temperatures or if you have high electricity rates, a heat pump may not benefit you.


Over at Zierman Plumbing and Heating, we would be happy to work with you and discuss the pros and cons of a heat pump or furnace. We can look at the needs of your home, the climate you’re in, and your gas or electricity rates. From there, we can help you pick the system that best fits you. Call us today to get started!