Heat Pumps or Gas Furnaces: Which Are Better for Winter Heating?

Furnace and Heat Pump in Spring, TX

Homeowners all over the Spring, TX, area know that it gets cold enough here in the winter to make heating necessary. However, they don’t always agree on the best way to heat their homes. Some swear by their tried-and-true gas furnaces, while others insist that heat pumps are a better option. The truth is, however, that both options have strengths and weaknesses. Here are the pros and cons of both heating options so you can come to your own conclusion.

Furnace Advantages and Disadvantages

Modern gas furnaces are among the most efficient home heating systems available. At a minimum, a gas furnace sold today must have an AFUE rating of 80, meaning that it converts 80% of the fuel it uses into heat for your home. However, it’s possible to find furnaces that are 98.5% efficient, too.

On top of their efficiency, gas furnaces are a mature technology that’s relatively easy to maintain. They’re also quite reliable, and it’s reasonable to expect between 15 and 20 years of reliable heating from a new gas furnace.

Gas furnaces aren’t perfect, though. Since they burn natural gas or propane to heat your home, there’s always the possibility of a gas leak. Also, a malfunction in a gas furnace could lead to a buildup of carbon monoxide in your home. If you don’t catch it in time, it could be fatal to everyone inside your home. Fortunately, though, such problems are very uncommon, and most gas furnaces operate safely throughout their lifetimes.

Heat Pump Advantages and Disadvantages

Although gas furnaces are quite efficient, they’re nothing compared to heat pumps. An air-source heat pump can be as much as 300% efficient. That means it will produce 3 units of heat for every unit of electricity it consumes. The secret to that efficiency is that heat pumps don’t use fuel or electricity to produce heat, except when it’s extremely cold outside.

Heat pumps capture available heat energy from the outdoor air and carry it indoors to heat your home. The electricity a heat pump uses merely powers that process. As a result, heat pumps have very low operating costs compared to gas furnaces.
Another advantage of a heat pump is that it can cool your home in the summer. That means having a single HVAC system to use in all seasons. That can lower your household HVAC maintenance costs and help you recoup more of your initial costs over time.

One of the main disadvantages of heat pumps is their initial installation costs, which can be higher than that of a gas furnace. Also, if your home doesn’t have enough insulation, a heat pump might struggle to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. This is because heat pumps don’t generate air that’s quite as hot as a furnace might. That makes them less adept at overcoming cold drafts and other heat losses in your home. They work best when you set them at a single temperature and leave it there for the duration of the heating season.

Choosing Between Furnaces and Heat Pumps

In truth, both furnaces and heat pumps are excellent ways to heat your home. So, there’s nothing wrong with choosing either solution, depending on your personal preferences. If your home already has a gas furnace and it needs replacing, it’s often cheaper and simpler to buy a new furnace.

However, if you want a heating solution that offers maximum efficiency, you can’t beat a heat pump. Plus, since we typically don’t have very cold winters here in Spring, TX, heat pumps work especially well here. You’ll just need to have a professional installer make certain that your home’s insulation will support the use of a heat pump. If not, you’ll need to resolve the issue first.

Trust the Home Heating Specialists

The best news about all of this is the fact that no matter which option you choose, North Point Air Conditioning & Heating can help you install it. We’ve served the Spring, TX, area since 1978, and offer complete heating, cooling, and insulation services throughout the area. So, whether you opt for a new furnace or a heat pump, or if you’d like to keep the heating system you have operating at peak efficiency, North Point Air Conditioning & Heating is the place to turn.

For all of your furnace and heat pump installation and service needs, contact North Point Air Conditioning & Heating today!

3 Simple Ways to Keep Your Furnace Clean

You depend on your furnace to keep your home warm throughout the winter, but it often goes neglected. Being it is in the basement or in a utility closet of some kind, it’s easy to forget about it until something goes wrong.

Unfortunately, that neglect can cause significant problems. One of the easiest things you can do is keep your furnace clean. Let’s explore why this is important and how you can easily keep your unit clean.

Why Do You Need a Clean Furnace?

Most people know it’s important to keep their home clean, but they might not realize that the state of the home can affect that of the furnace. When it comes to your furnace, keeping both your unit and your home clean will help minimize repairs and improve efficiency.

A furnace works by circulating air. It draws air in through the intake vents. That air is then warmed and then pushed back out into the home.

If there’s a restriction to the airflow anywhere in that system, it reduces its ability to circulate warm air properly. Most restrictions are caused by clogs in the system from dirt, dust, and other airborne contaminants that build up over time. The better you clean things, the better your furnace will end up running.

Any restrictions in the system will cause extra strain on the entire system. You may first notice it because of less air coming through vents. This means that the circulating fan is working harder to move the air. Consequently, this means all of the electrical components are also experiencing more resistance, increasing the heat they create. That extra heat makes them wear out more quickly. All of this is because of an airflow restriction.

Here are the three easiest ways to keep your unit clean throughout the year.

1. Change Your Air Filters

Just inside the intake side of your furnace is your air filter. This helps reduce the number of contaminants entering the more sensitive areas of the furnace. This is the most common area to experience a clog and cause a restriction.

Air filters typically need to be replaced every 60 to 90 days. The kind of air filter you use and how clean you keep your home otherwise will determine how often you should actually change them.

As a matter of practice, plan to check your filters once a month. This ensures you know when they’re starting to get clogged and can get them replaced. When you do check them, consider gently vacuuming the intake side of the filter. This will help extend the life of your filter.

2. Vacuum All Accessible Areas

Next, vacuum all the accessible areas of the furnace. When you do, be sure you turn off the power to the furnace, so it doesn’t turn on while you’re cleaning it.

The easy areas to clean are right around the furnace itself. You probably don’t need to scrub this with any sort of cleaner. However, vacuuming or sweeping it thoroughly is a definite must.

Also, be sure to clean around all of your registers, especially around your intake vent. This will help your filters last longer and will also reduce the contaminants in your ducts. The fewer contaminants in your air ducts, the fewer issues you’ll run into with respiratory problems, so there’s an added bonus.

Finally, if there’s a faceplate on your furnace, remove that so you can see the circulating fan. You want to vacuum this fan off regularly. If you plan to do it when you replace your furnace filters, that should be sufficient. While in this area, vacuum any additional dust or dirt you see that’s collected.

3. Schedule a Fall Maintenance Visit

Fall maintenance visits are always a good way to keep your furnace clean as well. During these visits, a technician will clean some of the more sensitive areas, including the burners and the heat exchanger. In addition to cleaning, they’ll inspect and test your system to ensure there are no early signs of wear. If they do find that something needs to be replaced or needs more servicing, then it allows you to plan for it rather than deal with it in an emergency.

North Point Air Conditioning & Heating has been the trusted provider for heating and cooling in North Harris and Montgomery counties since 1978. Our team is expertly trained and experienced in all makes and models of air conditioners and heating systems. Whether you need repairs, a new system installed, or regular maintenance to keep your system working efficiently, call us to schedule your appointment with one of our expert technicians today.