Heat Pump vs. Furnace

Father and son arm wrestling over a heat pump vs. furnace for their heating needs.

Looking to install a new heater in your home? The two most popular choices are a heat pump and a furnace. But which one to choose? Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages when compared to the other. Here are some things to consider to help you in your decision-making process. Call one of our HVAC professionals any time at Miller’s Area Heating to help you make your best decision as well.

Heat Pump

The short version of how a heat pump works is that it transfers heat from one area to another. It works the same as an air conditioner does, but in reverse. A heat pump doesn’t actually create heat, it draws heat in and moves it around. It’s also an air conditioner, so you pretty much get two for one with a heat pump. Here are its pros and cons.


Runs cleaner. A heat pump runs off with electricity, so it’s a cleaner source of energy than gas or oil. It can create one-and-a-half to three times more energy than it uses.

Can be safer. With a heat pump running on electricity, there’s no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or gas explosions.

Can provide both heating and cooling. This can be both convenient and cost-effective in the right home. No added components or elements.


More expensive to run. Since a heat pump runs entirely on electricity, it can be more expensive to run since electricity’s generally higher in price than gas or oil. But this depends on the cost of electricity in the area.

Can typically only be used for heat in warmer climates. A heat pump only heats in temperatures over 40 degrees Fahrenheit. After that your home will need a supplementary heater. So if you own a home in the southeastern coastal part of the U.S. or California, a heat pump would be a good choice. But if your primary home is located where winter temperatures are freezing and below, you’ll typically need a furnace.

Has shorter lifespan. A heat pump has a projected lifespan of fifteen to twenty years, while a furnace has a twenty-to-thirty-year lifespan. A heat pump suffers more wear and tear as well, since it runs year round, as opposed to a furnace that typically runs only a few months a year. This could result in more frequent repairs besides the shorter lifespan.


The short version of how a furnace works is that it uses a fuel to create its own heat, and then its fan blows the heat to different areas of your home. Here are its pros and cons.


Has longer lifespan. Running only a few months of the year, a furnace’s lifespan is longer than a heat pump’s. Most furnaces nowadays can last twenty to thirty years.

Has less maintenance. Running on the same principle as its lifespan, since a furnace is only used a few months a year, the wear and tear is less, resulting in less repairs with proper annual maintenance.

Can be used in homes everywhere. A furnace can be installed in any climate, regardless of the temperatures.


Can’t cool air. Since a furnace can only heat air, unlike a heat pump, you would need to make an additional investment in an air conditioner with a furnace.

Not as safe. Any time there’s gas or oil involved, there’s an inherent safety risk of fire or an explosion. With gas, there’s always the issue of a carbon monoxide leak.

Not as environmentally friendly to run. Gas and oil don’t burn as efficiently as electricity. Their burning produces toxic gases released into the environment.

There really is no clear cut answer on which is a better choice. The actual answer is it just depends––on you. Take into account several factors––your home’s climate, the energy rates for electricity vs. gas, how environmentally friendly the energy source would be––and go from there. Consult with any of our Miller’s Area Heating professionals at 847-223-0211, and we can help you choose the best option all the way around for your home.

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