How Are Furnaces and Heat Pumps Different?

Heating Services in San Antonio, TX

Here in San Antonio, TX, homeowners need reliable heating systems to get through the winter. Although we don’t get many sub-freezing days, you still don’t want to get caught without adequate heat. As a result, most homes here rely on a gas furnace to stay warm each winter. However, homeowners are increasingly looking to heat pumps as a replacement for their aging gas furnaces. Here’s how the two systems differ and how to choose between them.

The Benefits of Furnaces and How They Work

There are multiple good reasons why gas furnaces are so popular here in San Antonio. One of them is that they offer some of the most efficient heating you can get. That’s because the average gas furnace operates at 80% efficiency, while some models are up to 98.5% efficiency. On top of that, natural gas is plentiful and relatively inexpensive. That means gas furnaces are among the cheapest heating systems to operate. They’re also quite safe to operate, as gas furnaces feature robust safety systems and rely on mature technology.

Gas furnaces are also relatively simple machines, too. They feature a gas valve that controls the flow of natural gas into their burners. There, the gas mixes with air, and an ignitor causes it to combust. The resulting hot gasses then pass through a heat exchanger while a blower fan circulates air from your home across it. In high-efficiency gas furnaces, a secondary heat exchanger even captures extra heat that would otherwise escape through your furnace’s flue.

The Benefits of Heat Pumps and How They Work

Heat pumps are gaining popularity here in San Antonio because they are, hands down, the most efficient heating option you can use. This is because heat pumps don’t consume fuel to generate heat. Instead, heat pumps capture existing heat energy from the outside air and carry it into your home to warm it. As a result, some heat pumps can operate at efficiency levels approaching 400% under the right conditions. Even better, though, a heat pump can also operate in reverse, acting as a replacement for your air conditioner in the summer. In that role, heat pumps are also among the most efficient options you can buy.

The secret to a heat pump’s efficiency is that it uses the refrigeration cycle to capture heat in the winter. A heat pump cycles ultra-cold refrigerant through an outdoor heat exchanger, where it captures heat energy from the outside air. Then it passes the refrigerant through a compressor, which increases the refrigerant’s pressure and makes it even hotter. That hot refrigerant then travels inside your home, where it passes through another heat exchanger. At the same time, a blower fan circulates air from your home past the heat exchanger, warming it up in the process. In the summer, the cycle works the same, except in reverse.

Choosing Between a Furnace and Heat Pump

When the time comes for a new heating system in your San Antonio home, you’ll likely end up having to choose between a gas furnace and a heat pump. If your home already has a gas furnace, replacing it with another one will likely be your cheapest option. However, a heat pump will save you the most money over its lifetime.

If your home has a relatively new central air conditioner, you should also know that choosing a heat pump will mean removing that system. So, in that case, it might be a better idea to stick with a gas furnace so you won’t waste the investment you made in your home’s AC. However, if your furnace and AC need replacements simultaneously, you can’t go wrong with a heat pump.

San Antonio’s Heating Experts

Whether you want a new furnace or a heat pump in San Antonio, Rosenberg Plumbing & Air can help. We offer expert installation, repairs, and maintenance on all kinds of HVAC systems, including furnaces and heat pumps. Plus, we offer dehumidifiers, indoor air quality solutions, ductwork services, and mini-splits, too. We even offer commercial services if you also own a business in the area. And if you need some help affording your new furnace or heat pump, we offer financing on approved credit as well.

For furnaces, heat pumps, and all things HVAC, call the team at Rosenberg Plumbing & Air today!