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Should you replace your furnace with a heat pump?

A lot of people are asking this question lately. The answer as you might expect is: It depends.

Heat pump technology has made enormous gains in the last 20 years, and heat pumps (especially those with an ENERGY STAR rating) can be an excellent choice when upgrading your HVAC systems in the Triangle region. According to a July 2022 report by McKinsey & Company, "today’s models are 2.2 to 4.5 times more efficient than gas furnaces."

Some questions we often hear are:

  • Do heat pumps work well in North Carolina? Answer: Yes. Raleigh experiences moderate winters with average low temperatures that are above freezing. Heat pumps excel in these conditions because they are most efficient when the temperature differential between the outdoor and indoor environments is smaller.

  • At what temperature do heat pumps become ineffective? Answer: Air source heat pumps (the most common kind) begin to lose efficiency when outdoor temperatures drop below 35° to 40°F. However, modern heat pumps can generate a lot of heat even when temperatures drop below 10°. On the coldest days you may need a supplemental heat source, such as electrical or natural gas, to keep your home comfortable.

  • What is the downside to a heat pump? Answer: The main downside is the up front cost. Upgrading to a heat pump is probably more expensive than simply replacing your furnace. However, a heat pump may be the better choice when you look longer term because your monthly energy costs will be lower with a heat pump.

  • How long does a heat pump last in North Carolina? Answer: 15 to 20 years is probably a good rule of thumb. As with most things, "your mileage may vary." Properly and regularly maintaining your heat pump will extend the life of your unit.

  • Why are our State and Federal governments offering larger rebates and tax incentives for upgrading to heat pumps? Answer: Heat pumps are "greener." They are better for the environment for two reasons: (1) They are very efficient, and (2) they do not generate heat by burning fossil fuels. Rather, they move heat energy from inside your house to outside for summer cooling, and then they reverse the process to heat your home in the winter.

In summary, heat pumps can be an excellent choice for heating and cooling your Raleigh, NC home or office due to our region's moderate climate. However, it's important to consider various factors such as insulation, ductwork, and proper maintenance to maximize the efficiency of a heat pump system in your specific circumstances.

Please consult with a local HVAC professional who can provide more accurate insights based on your home's characteristics and energy needs. The experts at Scott Comfort Systems have been installing and servicing heat pumps in the Raleigh area for 20 years. We know heat pumps! Call us today to request your free HVAC evaluation and upgrade quote.

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