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Should I Buy a Furnace or Heat Pump in Austin?

dog in a blanket.

A conventional furnace and a heat pump are the most common heating choices for Austin homeowners. So how do you decide which one to purchase? 

Our professionals at AiRCO Heating & Air Conditioning can help you evaluate your options as well as talk with you about your home and family’s particular needs. Once you make your decision, we can also review makes and models along with pricing and installation details. 

Let’s start with taking a closer look at both furnaces and heat pumps—and their advantages and disadvantages.

Furnace Basics

A furnace heats your Texas home by burning a particular fuel such as propane, natural gas, oil,  or electricity. It warms your living space by actually creating heat and then circulating it throughout your home. Most furnaces are forced air, which means a blower will circulate your heated air through your home’s air duct network and room vents.

Furnace Pros

The most significant advantage of a furnace is it can provide heat regardless of outdoor temperature. Although this is not a significant consideration for Austin area homeowners, folks who live in colder climates may appreciate this particular “pro” a great deal.

The other key advantage is the initial price of the equipment. In general, furnaces can be $500 to $1,000 less expensive than heat pumps. They also have a longer life span, lasting between 20 and 30 years with proper maintenance. Heat pumps, because they are more complex in design, often need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years.

Furnace Cons

The disadvantage of furnaces is usually related to ongoing fuel costs. Take a look at the fuel options available in the area and what Austin energy prices look like before making a decision. 

In general, a natural gas furnace has lower operating costs than a heat pump, but not all neighborhoods have access to natural gas. Propane, on the other hand, can be significantly more expensive than electricity. Energy prices can also fluctuate over time.

Heat Pump Basics

Unlike a furnace, a heat pump doesn’t create heat—it moves it. It works just like a two-way air conditioner. A heat pump uses a compressed coolant to absorb heat from one location and relocate it to another. 

In the winter, it does this by moving heat from outside to inside your home. In the summer, it works in reverse, moving the heat from inside and releasing it outside to cool your home. 

Heat Pump Pros

One of the biggest advantages of heat pumps is they are extremely energy efficient. Modern models have seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) ratings of between 14 and 22. This is primarily because heat pumps do not have to burn a fuel to generate heat. This fact also makes heat pumps more environmentally friendly. No fossil fuels are required to create the heat you use.

Heat Pump Cons

Even though heat pumps are more efficient and do not require fossil fuels, they are usually more expensive to operate because they require electricity to run.

In addition, heat pumps do not work as well in extreme-cold climates because there is less outdoor heat to capture and move into your home. Heat pumps work best when outdoor temperatures are around 40 degrees or greater. Since Austin has very mild winters, however, this “con” is not a major concern.

How to Decide

Making the final decision will depend on your personal priorities. In general, most people will choose a furnace over a heat pump if their home has access to natural gas. Both the initial cost and ongoing operating costs are lower in this case. 

However, if being environmentally responsible is a priority for you, selecting a heat pump can be one way you can reduce your personal carbon footprint.

Because Austin has mild temperatures, heat pumps work well in this area. They also have the advantage of doubling as an air conditioner in the summer.

Contact AiRCO for All Your Heating Needs

Our team at AiRCO Heating and Air Conditioning in Austin TX, would be happy to discuss more details and answer your questions about furnaces and heat pumps as you’re making your choice. Call our certified, trained professionals at 512.537.1234 or request service online today. 

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512.537.1234 Request Service
512.537.1234 Request Service