What’s the Difference Between a Heat Pump and a Furnace?

In Spokane, heating your home is an essential part of the battle against our regular cold and rain. There’s nothing better than coming home on a stormy night to find a warm, cozy household waiting for you. Many Spokane households use traditional central furnace systems, but others use heat pumps: a technology that combines the features of a traditional air conditioner and a heater. What’s the difference between a heat pump and a furnace? Read on for the answers.

In simple terms, a furnace can’t cool the air, only warm it. Most models depend on gas or oil to ignore burners, which heat the air that then travels throughout your home via a system of ducts. Gas furnaces benefit from an ease of use and they don’t cost as much to install as heat pumps, though they’re not as versatile and may cost you more in monthly heating bills.

Heat pumps, on the other hand, function according to the same principles that govern air conditioners. Refrigerant passes through a series of condenser coils (which bleed heat from it into the surrounding air) and then into a series of evaporator coils (which cool the air around it). One set of coils is in the indoor part of the house and one on the outdoor part. In the summer, the indoor coils act as evaporators – releasing cool air into your home – and the outdoor coils act as condensers – releasing heat into the outside air. In the winter, that process is reversed, allowing you to heat your home with the same technology that you once cooled it.

Heat pumps work very well in climates where the temperature rarely drops below 40 degrees, like Spokane. They cost more to install that gas furnaces, but tend to use much less energy to do the same job. That’s the key difference between a heat pump and a furnace, at least as far as the average homeowner is concerned. In Spokane, heating services are provided by ACI Northwest, who can help choose a type of furnace before providing professional heating installation services. Call us today to set up an appointment.

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