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Heat Pump vs. Furnace

A father and son arm wrestling over the heating choice of a heat pump vs. furnace.

Looking to install a new heater in your home? Your two most popular choices in Cedar Park, TX, are a heat pump or a gas furnace – but which one to choose? Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some things to consider which may help you in the decision-making process. Call Arise and one of our HVAC professionals will be happy to help you navigate the choices.

Heat Pump

The short version of how a heat pump works is that it transfers energy that is present in the air from one place to another by the use of refrigerant. It can heat your home by pulling warm air from outdoors or cool your home by removing heat from the indoor air. Here are some pros and cons of using a Heat Pump.


  • Heat Pumps run cleaner. A heat pump runs on electricity, which is a cleaner source of energy than natural or propane gas. It can create one-and-a-half to three times more energy than it uses.
  • Can be more cost effective. Heat Pumps are more cost effective in mild climate locations because they use a single energy source, electricity.
  • Can be safer. With a heat pump, there’s no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, gas leaks or gas explosions.
    Provides both heating and cooling. This can be convenient and cost-effective.


  • Can typically only be used in warmer winter climates. A standard heat pump efficiently generates heat in temperatures over 35 degrees Fahrenheit. In temperatures below 35, your heat pump will depend on supplemental heat from electric heat strips (or an alternate fuel) to generate enough warmth.
  • More expensive to run in peak heating. Since a heat pump runs entirely on electricity, it can be more expensive to run in extreme cold weather.
  • Has shorter lifespan. According to the Dept. of Energy, a heat pump has a projected lifespan of 12 to 16 years, while an air conditioner/furnace system can last 15 to 20 years. A heat pump is also a more complex system which may require more repairs than an air conditioner/furnace system.


The short version of how a furnace works is that it uses a process of burning fossil fuel to create heat, and then its fan blows the heat to different areas of your home. In Texas, a furnace would be paired with an outdoor air conditioning unit so that you have cooling as well as heat. Here are its pros and cons.


  • Has longer lifespan. The air conditioner/furnace system utilizes the furnace only during the heating cycle and the air conditioner (along with the furnace’s blower components) during times when cooling is needed.
  • Can be used in homes everywhere. A furnace can be installed in any climate, regardless of the climate or temperatures.


  • Can’t cool air. Since a furnace can only heat air, unlike a heat pump, your furnace needs to be paired with an air conditioning unit that will work with the furnace’s blower system to provide cooling.
  • Not as safe. Any time gas is involved, there’s an inherent safety risk of fire or an explosion, or the danger of a carbon monoxide leak.
  • Not as environmentally friendly. Gas (natural or propane) does not burn as efficiently as electricity. The burning produces toxic gases which are released into the environment.
  • There really is no clear answer on which is a better choice. The answer depends on you – your home’s optimal climate, local energy rates, the differing efficiency levels of the equipment you are considering, as well as environmental considerations.

Call anytime to consult with our Arise professionals at 512-267-5000 and we can help you simplify the decision-making process.

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