Gas Furnace vs Electric Heat Pumps: Which to Choose

Electric heat pumps have a number of advantages over traditional gas furnaces but they both have good and bad points. If you live in a cold area, a gas furnace may be the best choice for your home, whereas a heat pump will be more cost effective in a hot climate.


An older gas furnace with a pilot light has an efficiency of only 65 percent, modern gas units have and efficiency of 80 percent. A heat pump is often up to 50 percent more efficient than a furnace. If a heat pump is sized to run continually, more money will be saved as efficiency will be maximized as it will not cycle on and off too often. Too much cycling produces wear on the components. The main loss of efficiency with a ducted gas system is loss of heat through ducts. If your ducts are well insulated, the heat loss can be minimized.


A heat pump may be much cheaper to run than a gas furnace, depending on the costs of electricity and gas in your area. A heap pump may be expensive to install which may not make installing one cost efficient if you already have a working gas furnace. If you are installing new, a heat pump will be a lot cheaper than a new gas furnace.


Heat pumps can both heat and cool a house meaning that you don't have to have different units doing different jobs. A heat pump can extract heat found in the air outside your home and transfer that heat into your house.

You need to choose your system according to the seasonal weather in your area. If your temperature range rarely dips below 40 degrees F, a heat pump will probably be a more affordable heating option. If you live in a cold area, a furnace can be a better choice as it makes it easier to maintain even temperature as the outside temperature changes.

Life span

Because a heat pump is used all year round, it usually has a shorter life span than a separate furnace and central air conditioner. Maintenance costs can be higher as well as the components are being run for more months of the year.


Gas furnaces are potentially dangerous as well as being potentially unhealthy. With the extra risk of burning your home down or poisoning you need to weigh the risks of keeping your gas furnace with the costs of installing a heat pump. Electric heat has the main advantage of no in-house fuel combustion, which makes it cleaner than gas, whereas gas furnaces pose a threat of escaping carbon monoxide gas, or even the possibility of an explosion.


Gas furnaces have an average life span of 15 years, which is only slightly longer than a heat pump. A heat pump is next to useless in very cold areas as they use outdoor ambient heat to heat the house. If it is freezing outside, they are not dependable and a gas furnace would be a better choice.