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Furnace vs. Heat Pump: What’s the Difference?

Finding the perfect HVAC system for your home in Woodbridge, Virginia, is vital. Without doing so, you’ll risk compromising your comfort and reducing energy efficiency. When selecting a heating system for your home, there are two systems to choose from: a heat pump and a furnace. The question is, what’s the difference between the two and which will work best for your needs?


Most homeowners are familiar with furnaces. A furnace will generate heat by burning natural gas or oil before blowing it into your home. There are also furnaces powered by electricity. While furnaces were once considered highly inefficient, recent innovations in technology make some models up to 98-percent efficient, which means only 2 percent of the forced air escapes.

A furnace is also a good choice if you have natural gas lines by your home and recently installed an air conditioning system. It can cost significantly less to complement your AC system with a furnace than installing a backup heating method such as a heat pump.

Heat Pumps

Unlike furnaces, heat pumps don’t use fuel sources or generate heat. Instead, they rely on electricity and refrigerant to extract heat from the outdoor air and blow it into the home. What’s more, a heat pump can also work in reverse in the summer to extract warm air out of your home to cool it down.

Since a heat pump relies on electricity to move heat, it can have up to 300-percent efficiency. It only takes one unit of electrical energy to move three units of heat into the home when operating at its peak. Heat pumps are also an ideal choice if your home isn’t located by any natural gas lines, since they rely on electricity. The downside is that, as the temperature outside drops below freezing, it impacts that efficiency.

Need help choosing the right furnace or heat pump for your home? Contact the HVAC specialists at Brennan’s Heating & Air Conditioning by calling 703-783-0145 to discuss your options.

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