What Is the Difference Between a Heat Pump and a Furnace?


Quick Answer

The differences between a heat pump and a furnace include functionality, price and components, with the primary difference being functionality. A furnace is used solely to provide heat, whereas a heat pump can function as a heater or an air conditioner. A heat pump has refrigerants, which allow the heat pump to heat cold air and make hot air cold.

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Full Answer

A heat pump offers added convenience to homeowners and provides year-round climate control with the use of a single unit. Another major difference between a heat pump and a furnace is that a heat pump uses electricity, whereas a furnace usually burns some form of fuel. Although the most common types of furnaces burn natural gas, furnaces also use electricity and may burn fuel oil, wood, coal or liquid petroleum gas. As of 2014, heat pumps are more common in households within the United States as a result of access to natural gas. Although modern furnaces burn fuel efficiently and offer clean air production, heat pumps must use air filters to ensure the air within the home is clean. Furnaces are cheaper to purchase, however, heat pumps cost less to operate over long periods of time. Heat pumps also improve energy efficiency, which lowers heating and cooling bills.

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