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Furnaces vs. Heat Pumps – What’s the Difference?

With over thirty years of experience in furnace sales, installation, and repairs around Oregon, we’ve seen many new home heating technologies come and go. However, none seem to be revolutionizing the market quite like heat pumps.  More and more residents of Salem and Keizer are looking into upgrades to heat pumps, and we don’t blame them. This latest form of home heating has many advantages, and not many disadvantages, compared to traditional furnaces.

Today, we wanted to briefly look at how heat pumps work and what makes them different from standard gas or electric furnaces.

Four Major Differences Between Heat Pumps and Furnaces

1. Method of operation

The genius of the heat pump is that it’s so simple. A heat pump is just an air conditioner – except that it’s reversible. The heat pump can, in effect, “air condition” the outside, which means pumping heat into your home as a side effect. This dual-way method of operation means that heat pumps can act as both heating and cooling units depending on the season!

2. Options for per-room heating

Some heat pumps are large central units, like your existing furnace, and utilize your ductwork to heat the entire house. However, there’s another alternative in heat pump technology – ductless systems, also called mini-splits. These are per room heaters and coolers connected via small pipes to a miniature outdoor unit. A set of mini-splits allows you to precisely control the climate in every room of your house, something that’s impossible with an old-style central furnace.

3. Energy efficiency

This is the most significant difference between heat pumps and traditional furnaces: heat pumps are much cheaper to run. We’re not exaggerating – you can expect to see your heating bills reduced by anywhere between 25% and 50% if you install a heat pump. They are the most efficient form of home heating yet invented and are likely to overtake the industry in short order.

4. Below-freezing performance

The only area where traditional furnaces still work better than heat pumps is extremely cold when it’s well below freezing.  Heat pumps struggle in deep cold.  They will still warm your house somewhat, but traditional furnaces are more effective – although you’ll be paying dearly for that extra heat due to how inefficient furnaces are.

Get HVAC Services in Salem & Keizer

Is a heat pump or mini-split system suitable for you? Contact the furnace sales and support experts at Melton’s Heating & Air Conditioning to learn more.


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