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Heat Pump vs. Furnace for Heating Maryland Homes

February 1, 2024

If you are in the market for a new heating system in Maryland, you may have questions about which system you should go with. Two common heating systems that people in Maryland have installed in their homes are heat pumps and furnaces. But which one is right for you and your home? In this blog post, we will break down the benefits of both systems as well as break down when one is a better option than the other. 


Why choose a furnace 

Furnaces heat your home by pushing warm air through the ductwork in your house. There are many benefits to having a furnace over other types of systems such as a heat pump:

Energy Efficient
Forced air furnaces are very efficient, making it an efficient way to heat your home. Furnaces use less energy to run than other options out there. 


Compared to many other heating systems on the market, forced air furnaces are much more reliable and efficient. Furnaces typically last for years without many issues. This will give homeowners peace of mind during the cold winter months, which is when heating systems work the hardest. 


Furnaces are more affordable than other types of heating systems. They are a good option for people on a tight budget who still want a reliable heating system.


Another benefit of having a furnace is that they are very quiet compared to your other options. You will not have to worry about disruptiveness or the annoyance of hearing your heating system run. 


When is a furnace the best option?

There are a number of instances where the better option is having a furnace installed. One instance is if you have a large home because furnaces do a better job of effectively providing adequate heat in a shorter amount of time. A furnace will take a lot less time to heat up a larger home than a heat pump will. Another factor to consider is climate. Here in Maryland, we can sometimes get harsh winters with temperatures dipping close to single digits. Furnaces work reliably when it is this cold, however, heat pumps can have issues working efficiently when temperatures drop too low.


Why choose a heat pump

Now, let’s cover the benefits of having a heat pump in your home rather than a furnace:

Easy installation
Heat pumps are very easy to install in your home because they can be customized for your specific needs. If you have ductwork already installed in your home, that makes it very easy to install a heat pump. Even if you do not have ductwork previously installed, you can get a certain type of heat pump to work without it.


In addition to being able to heat your home, heat pumps are also capable of cooling your home. This makes them very versatile and a good deal if the conditions are right. Later, we will get more into why this will not work for everyone’s situation.


Saves space
Unlike other heating systems, heat pumps take up very little space and are designed to “blend in” rather than be an eyesore. This allows you to have more space as well as preserve the aesthetic of your home.


Air quality and humidity control
One unique feature of a heat pump is that the heat pump can regulate humidity levels in your home. This can help combat dry air during the winter months as well as prevent excess humidity in the warmer months. Also, since heat pumps typically have a longer run time than other options, it catches and filters more pollutants to ensure clean air is circulating in your home.


When is a heat pump the best option?

Heat pumps work better in mild climates rather than harsh climates. This is because heat pumps have the potential to freeze in subzero temperatures. If you live in an area with a mild climate, a heat pump could be a solid option for you. If you want to save some money, having a heat pump installed can help with that. This is because heat pumps have two functions: heating and cooling. This can help reduce installation costs because you won’t have to worry about having two different systems installed. Also, having one system instead of two will save space and look better aesthetically. 


Which is most affordable?

Now that we have gone through the benefits of both furnaces and heat pumps, it is time to find out which is actually more affordable than the other. However, it is not as simple of an answer as you would think. It depends on many factors such as whether you already have ductwork installed in your home, and what type of climate you live in. Let’s dive into how these factors affect how affordable each system is. 

Do you have existing ductwork and a furnace in your home?
If you already have ductwork installed in your home, it will be much cheaper to purchase a furnace and have it installed. If you do not have ductwork already installed in your home, then a heat pump can be the more affordable option. This is because not all heat pumps rely on ductwork to heat your home. Certain heat pumps use indoor heads installed throughout the home to distribute heat. This can save you money on installation costs.

Fuel costs 
Heat pumps run on electricity while gas furnaces run on natural gas. Since natural gas prices are almost always cheaper than running electricity, furnaces are typically cheaper to run over time. However, climate plays a big role in determining the cost to run each system. For example, if you live in a very mild climate where the temperature rarely drops below freezing, then a heat pump would most likely be a more affordable option for you because the heat pump will not have to combat below-freezing temperatures to heat your home.  As a result, your heat pump will not have to work as hard to heat or cool your home, reducing the amount of fuel needed to power it. If you live in an area with harsh winters, a furnace will be more affordable in the long run because it is more efficient in colder temperatures than heat pumps. 

Maintenance costs
Maintenance costs for heat pumps is typically less because they are more simple in design with less moving parts. If you go with a gas furnace, you will need to get it checked annually to ensure it is working properly and safely. The cost of fixing and maintaining a furnace is usually more expensive because it is a more complex system than a heat pump.


Consult with an HVAC professional

Now you know some of the factors to consider when deciding to get a furnace or a heat pump, it may seem easier to choose the right option for you. However, it is also important and helpful to consult an HVAC professional so that they can use their expertise to help you pick the right option.


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