Installing a furnace is not the only way to heat a home. In fact, there are some limitations of a furnace that you can improve on by using a different heating system. For example, a heat pump can be an attractive alternative to a furnace. Choosing between the two will depend as much on the heating demands you face with your home as it will on which of the two options is more efficient.
What Are the Limitations of a Furnace?
A furnace's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. A furnace creates its own heat by burning a fuel. Thus, no matter how cold it gets outside, your furnace will be able to burn fuel to create heat. On the other hand, a furnace will never be more than 100% efficient, meaning it will never be able to create more than one unit of heat for every unit of fuel it burns. Not only is a furnace's efficiency necessarily limited, but the need to have fuel to burn means that you are dependent on the natural gas lines entering your home or having fuel delivered to your home. If you want to improve your heating efficiency or you want to heat your home off the grid, you need to consider other options.
What Are the Advantages of a Heat Pump?
A heat pump does not generate its own heat. Instead, it moves heat from one location to another. In the case of heating a home, a heat pump will have one set of coils on the outside of your home, which it uses to absorb heat from the outside air, and it will have a second set of coils, which is uses to push this heat into your home. An air-source heat pump can achieve efficiency levels of up to 250%. However, this efficiency is limited by the outside air temperatures, and the cooler it gets outside, the less efficient the heat pump will be. A ground-source heat pump can achieve efficiency levels of up to 500% irrespective of the temperature of the outside air. Furthermore, because both options run on electricity, you can power them off of solar panels or wind turbines and, thus, heat your home off the grid.
In some cases, a ground-source heat pump will be prohibitively expensive, so your choice will be between an air-source heat pump and a furnace. In which case, you need to consider how cold your winters are. If you have consistent temperatures at or around freezing, then a furnace, which can create its own heat, will be the better option. On the other hand, if you only face moderate winters, a heat pump will likely be the better choice.
For more information, contact local professionals like Actionaire Inc.