Heat Pump vs a furnace and an A/C – what’s best for heating / cooling your home?
August 15, 2013
With the change from cooling to heating seasons, people habitually start looking at furnaces. But, is a furnace the right decision to heat your house? Like just about every other question we try to answer, that depends. What does it depend on? Your priorities for the environment, comfort, as well as where you live. What you may not realize is that depending on where you live, a heat pump is not only the most environmentally sound choice, but also the most efficient from an operating cost perspective.
Obviously, because a heat pump uses only electricity it is leaps and bounds ahead of any type of furnace from a carbon emissions standpoint. Students of carbon footprint calculations might be tempted to say that a heat pump is not better than an electric furnace from an emissions standpoint but it is when you consider that it uses less than ½ the electricity (which is to a certain extent carbon emitting). Even if you have access to natural gas (which is better than oil or propane from an emissions standpoint), if you really are focused on reducing your carbon footprint the heat pump is the best choice.
Since we are still faced with covering the costs to heat our homes, what are the operating costs of all of the options? The answer may surprise you. On an operating cost basis, a high efficiency heat pump can generate heat at less than half the cost of any oil, propane, or electric furnace. I can share the math with anyone who’s interested but based at current market prices in Southern Ontario, a heat pump can make heat at a cost of less than $14.50 per million btu’s, where a similar output is $29.22 from a propane furnace and slightly more from an oil one!
Natural gas furnaces tend to produce heat more cost effectively, but for many people who live in areas where there is no natural gas service, the best answer for heating your house from both an environment AND EFFICIENCY perspective, is a hi efficiency heat pump. Ask your heating professional to take you through the math – if he knows how, you’ll likely end up heating your house with a heat pump! Plus you’ll get the added benefit of using it as an air conditioning unit in the summer months!
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