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Misunderstandings About the “Furnace or Heat Pump” Choice

Heater Replacement

When it’s time to have a new heating system installed, take my advice—don’t make a hasty choice! This isn’t like getting a bad haircut (as I’ve seen happen to some of my poodle friends) where the mistake corrects itself fast. A heating installation is supposed to last for a decade or more. Replacing a heater years early because it wasn’t right for your house is a big inconvenience and expense. Taking time to consider your options and how they’ll work with your house is key to getting the right installation at the start.

I’m pleased to say you don’t have to make the choice on your own! You’ve got me, for one, to give advice. Even better, you have our Russell & Abbott team.

Today, we’re going to offer you new perspectives on one of the big choices for a new heater: the heat pump or the furnace.

People often have misunderstandings about both systems

Right off the top of my head, here are some misconceptions people have about furnaces and heat pumps: a furnace is always better, heat pumps can’t fully heat a house, gas furnaces are dangerous, and heat pumps can emit carbon dioxide. I’ll break down what’s incorrect:

  • “A furnace is always better” – In the world of home heating, no system is always better. If it was, every home would have that system. Furnaces are the most common heater type, specifically gas furnaces, but the specific needs of a home are important. This is why our team performs an exact load calculation to determine the amount of heat your home requires. There are cases where the strong levels of heat a furnace puts out may make a house stuffy and overheated. Also, a house without a gas line can’t use a gas furnace.
  • “Heat pumps can’t fully heat a house” – This misunderstanding comes from the earlier days of heat pumps, where the technology wasn’t advanced enough for a heat pump to draw on sufficient thermal energy during extremely cold days to provide comfort. Heat pumps are more effective today, even in much colder climates than ours, and can give many households the heating levels they need. There are also dual fuel heat pumps that have backup heat from a gas or propane furnace, combining electric and heating fuel energy.
  • “Gas furnaces are dangerous” – Natural gas does carry risks of toxic gas exposure and combustion hazards. But if gas furnaces were really dangerous devices, they would never be allowed in homes at all! We certainly would never install anything we thought was dangerous in your home. When you have regular maintenance for a gas furnace each year, you’ll have little to worry about.
  • “Heat pumps can emit carbon dioxide” – Heat pumps do not burn fuel to work. They’re electrical devices that use electricity to power components to move heat from outside to inside. This makes them a good alternative to an electric furnace in an all-electric house. However, a dual fuel heat pump uses a gas furnace backup, so those models can emit CO.

If you’re wondering about a furnace or a heat pump in Knoxville, TN for your new heating system, call our experts and they’ll give you the data about your house you need to make the best choice.

Stay warm,