Heat Pumps vs. Furnaces: Which Is Right For My Home?

If you’re deciding between installing a new heat pump or a furnace in your home, we understand how difficult it is to determine which one to choose. Although both of them have distinct advantages and disadvantages, you need to consider your home’s specific needs as well.

For this reason, this extensive guide will walk you through heat pumps and furnaces so you can make a well-informed decision. However, you may need assistance from a Portsmouth HVAC contractor before ultimately choosing which one to install.

What are Heat Pumps?

Despite their name, heat pumps actually provide both heating and cooling. Rather than just creating hot air as furnaces do, heat pumps also double as air conditioners. Heat pumps work by taking heat from the outdoors and transferring it into your home (and vice-versa). 


First, let’s discuss the advantages that heat pumps offer. Heat pumps are more energy-efficient and usually quieter than traditional furnace systems. Due to their dual-functionality, heat pumps are growing in popularity among homeowners who want an eco-friendly option.

As such, the main advantage of a heat pump is that it provides both heating and cooling. Installing a heat pump is more affordable than replacing a furnace if you don’t need to change your AC system during the hot Portsmouth, VA, summers. 


The main disadvantage of heat pumps is that they are less powerful than traditional furnaces. For this reason, homeowners who live in a colder environment are better off installing a furnace in their homes.

However, heat pumps are an excellent solution if you live in a temperate region with cold winters and hot summers. This way, you can take full advantage of the dual heating and cooling system that heat pumps provide.

If you do install a heat pump, it’s important to remember that they experience more wear and tear than furnaces. This increased wear occurs because they are used throughout the year due to their dual functionality. As such, we recommend having a Portsmouth HVAC contractor inspect and maintain your unit annually.

What are Furnaces?

Furnaces are heating systems that create heat and then transfer it from one area to another. A traditional forced-air furnace heats up the air by transferring it through a fire chamber where combustion takes place.

Then, a blower pumps the air through the ducts and into your home. Furnaces consist of two components: a burner unit that holds all of the equipment (usually in the basement) and one or more small thermostats that you use to set the temperature.

Furnaces can be used to provide significant heat, but they have no capacity to cool your home.


Furnaces are a great option for homeowners looking for a cost-effective heating system. They are relatively inexpensive to install and have longer lifespans compared to other heating systems. In addition, furnaces require less maintenance than heat pumps because they’re only used for heating.

Furnaces also provide reliable heating even in the coldest Portsmouth, VA, winters. As mentioned earlier, heat pumps won’t be as effective as furnaces during extremely chilly winter conditions. 


The disadvantages of furnaces depend on how it’s fueled: gas, oil, or electric. Gas furnaces require a natural gas line that runs into your home. If your home doesn’t have a natural gas line, the installation cost will be significantly higher.

For electric furnaces, electricity is more expensive than natural gas. For this reason, you will face higher monthly utility bills.

What are Dual Fuel Systems?

Another option you have is dual fuel systems. Dual fuel systems are a combination of a heat pump and gas furnace. They are a great solution that allows you to lower your monthly utility bills since they can harness both natural gas and electricity. 

Dual fuel systems combine the best features of a heat pump together with a gas furnace. They will operate the heat pump during milder temperatures when running the heat pump is more efficient. As the temperature drops, the dual fuel system will automatically switch to the gas furnace. 

Which System Should I Choose

The heating system you choose to install into your home depends on the climate of the area where you live. Heat pumps are the better choice if you live in a mild climate. Furnaces are more optimal for homeowners that live in colder climates.

However, dual fuel systems combine the best parts of a furnace and a heat pump to provide efficient heating and cooling around the year. The best solution can be found by talking with your local HVAC contractor and discussing your budget, needs, and preferences.

Contact Your Portsmouth HVAC Professionals

At Energy Pro Heating & Cooling, we specialize in providing HVAC services in Portsmouth, VA, and the surrounding areas such as Chesapeake and Suffolk. 

We provide an extensive range of services and are more than certified to install a new heating system in your home. First, we’ll inspect your home’s current heating situation and then make a recommendation based on your specific needs. Contact Energy Pro Heating & Cooling today to schedule your in-home inspection.

January 31st, 2022 | Heating and Cooling