Heat Pumps vs. Furnaces: Which Can Best Meet Your Huntsville Heating and Cooling Needs?

When it comes to meeting homeowner’s heating and cooling needs in Huntsville, one of the topics that often comes up is whether heat pumps or furnaces can best do the job. The truth is that both types of systems have pros and cons. To help you make an informed decision, here are the basic facts about each option.


Furnaces use an open flame to heat air, which is then circulated throughout the home. While in the past furnaces were often powered by coal or oil, today the most commonly used fuel is natural gas. Most homes in our area use a furnace/air conditioner combination to meet their Huntsville heating and cooling needs.

A furnace’s efficiency is measured in annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) units. In the past, most furnaces had around an 80% AFUE rating. Today’s units, however, are far more efficient than those made just a few years ago. The higher the rating, the less it will cost you to operate the furnace. However, how warm your home feels depends on many factors, including the amount and type of insulation it has.

Older furnaces are sometimes known for providing uneven heat. This is due to the off/on cycle that’s controlled by your thermostat. This can cause the temperature in the home to vary by several degrees throughout the day. New models called modulating furnaces avoid this problem by fine-tuning the strength of the furnace’s flame. If you find yourself feeling uncomfortably warm or cold during the winter months, then a modulating furnace might be the solution you’re looking for.


Heat pumps are another option for meeting your Huntsville heating and cooling needs. Unlike furnaces, these devices don’t create warmth themselves; rather they take it from the out-of-doors. While it may sound surprising, even on the coldest winter day the outside air contains a great deal of heat. Heat pumps draw this air into the home.

The greatest advantage heat pumps offer over furnaces is their high level of energy efficiency. This can save homeowners substantial amounts of money. However, heat pumps are only efficient at heating when the outside temperatures are above freezing. This makes them a poor choice on days when the weather is cold enough to create ice or snow. Most heat pump systems use an auxiliary furnace on very cold days to overcome this weakness.


on a number of factors. The best way for us to answer the question is to speak with you directly. We’ll listen to your needs and offer our expert opinion on the best option in your case. So give us a call today and let us put our expertise to work for you.

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