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Image for Dear Claire: What is the Difference Between a Gas Furnace and a Heat Pump?

Dear Claire: What is the Difference Between a Gas Furnace and a Heat Pump?

Both of these systems are ducted, which means that air is going to be blown into each room through a system of metal ducts. There can be different material than metal used for these ducts, and both of these systems are very efficient. On the gas furnace side, you can get up to 95% efficiency, which means your fuel, natural gas, is being burned quite efficiently.

A heat pump can actually be more than a 100% efficient. It’s pulling warm air from outside, cleaning it, and then putting it into your indoor space. The differences between the two systems of using outdoor air and using an actual fuel source is that with gas furnaces you’re typically going to need a cooling system. Portland’s getting warmer these days. For those two weeks in the summertime, you’ll probably want to have an air conditioner. Alternatively, a heat pump can provide cool air. You can pull air from outside and cool it and it will give you air conditioning. But in the colder months, essentially those two weeks in December when we have snow, you might want a furnace back up when it’s so cold because you can’t get enough heat from outside.

I find it fascinating because when comparing both, for one you might want an auxiliary furnace and for the other one you might want an auxiliary air conditioner.

Gas furnaces usually cost between $4,000 and $6,000. It depends on the size of the house, the efficiency, the brand, and any specials the suppliers might be running at the time.

Heat pumps cost about the same and are between $3,000 and $6,000. Air conditioning is about the same: $6,000. If you have duplicate systems on both sides, it could potentially cost a lot of money, however, it really depends on what you’re most concerned with. I find that for people who prefer a heat pump, they are really into energy efficiency because they’re spending less money and using less fuel. They’re not burning any fuel at all. On the gas side, you can get a super-efficient system, however you’ll also want to have an air conditioner when you need summertime cooling.

If you have any other questions about stuff like this, I love geeking out on systems in a home. Feel free to reach out to me at (503) 998-4878 or email me at [email protected] and let me know if you have any other questions about topics you’d like me to address.

Take care.

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