How to Choose Between a Heat Pump Versus Furnace

When trying to decide between a heat pump versus furnace, it helps to understand their differences and similarities. Both can effectively heat your home, but they work differently.

A heat pump works by absorbing heat from outside and turning it into gas. A furnace, on the other hand, uses combustion.

When it comes to heating systems and air conditioners, no one knows more than the experts at A Custom Services in Chicago. Our experts can help you learn why your AC won’t turn off and provide effective repairs with exceptional customer service.

In the meantime, read on to learn about the key differences between heat pumps and furnaces.


A furnace provides central heating by using fuel to light a burner. There are two types of fuels for a furnace: oil and natural gas. Natural gas is the most popular option since it is less expensive and comes from a utility company, making it more convenient than oil. When natural gas enters the combustion chamber, the burner ignites to create heat for your home.

A furnace consists of four sections: the burner, heat exchanger, blower fan, and flue. The burner burns the fuel while the heat exchangers transfer heat in the system. The fan distributes heat throughout your home, and the flue vents the unit.

Benefits of a Furnace

One of the primary benefits of a furnace is its long lifespan. With proper installation and regular maintenance, a quality furnace can last up to 30 years.

Another reason furnaces are popular in Chicago is that they heat the home quickly. They also require less maintenance and tend to be more durable.

Things to Consider

When choosing between heat pumps and furnaces, it is important to consider any downsides. For example, although a furnace heats quicker, it can produce uneven heat throughout the home.

Another factor to keep in mind is that furnaces only heat; they do not cool. Therefore, if you decide to get a furnace, you will need to look at separate air conditioning units as well.


Unlike a furnace, heat pumps do not rely on natural gas or oil. Instead, they take air from outside and then transfer heated air back into your home. Essentially, it works the same as a hairdryer.

When the weather is warm, heat pumps can work in reverse to cool your home.

A heat pump consists of a condenser coil, indoor air handler, line set, and reversing valve. The condenser is part of the outdoor unit, while the indoor air handler includes an evaporator coil and blower.

The line set connects the indoor and outdoor units while holding refrigerant. The system pumps the refrigerant between the indoor and outdoor units to heat the air before releasing it into the home.

The reversing valve is what allows a heat pump to both heat and cool your home. It lets the system switch between releasing cool air and warm air.

Benefits of a Heat Pump

Unlike a furnace, a heat pump is useful for every season. You can use it as an air conditioner during the summer and a heater when the Chicago winter approaches.

Another advantage to having a heat pump is its impressive efficiency, which means you can save money on your monthly energy bill. They are also eco-friendly since they have no greenhouse gas emissions if they use a renewable source of electricity.

Things to Consider

One of the key differences between a heat pump versus furnace is the lifespan. On average, a quality heat pump will last up to 15 years, half of the lifespan of a furnace.

Since heat pumps can both cool and heat your home, they require two units: one outdoor and one indoors. This means they take up more space than a furnace would.


Chicago winters are known for brutally cold temperatures, so you’ll want to make sure your heating system can withstand colder climates. The short answer is that furnaces work better in very cold weather.

Since heat pumps take air from the outside and transfer it inside, they heat a home better when the outside air is warmer. Although they can use air that is below freezing, it reduces efficiency. This typically results in more maintenance and increased energy bills during the winter season.

To summarize, heat pumps are ideal for a mild climate, whereas homes in colder weather can benefit more from furnaces. However, many homeowners will go with a heat pump and furnace combination to get the best of both worlds.


Another key factor to consider when deciding between heat pumps and furnaces is the cost. A heat pump tends to cost more upfront than a furnace or air conditioner.

However, remember that heat pumps provide both cooling and heating. If you buy a furnace, you will also need to buy an air conditioning system if you want your home cool during the summer.

Average annual costs for a furnace range between $800 and $1,500 depending on the furnace efficiency and how often you use it. Homeowners can expect to spend between $250 and $850 every year for their heat pump.

Not only are heat pumps typically cheaper throughout the year, but they also have slightly lower installation costs. For example, to install a standard-efficiency furnace, you can expect to pay between $4,000 and $4,500. Installing a heat pump, however, costs between $3,500 and $4,500.


From climate to budget, deciding between a heat pump versus furnace requires lots of consideration. When you need help determining which heating system is best for your home, let the experts at A Custom Services help. Our HVAC service professionals in Chicago understand the pros and cons of various heating and air systems and can help you decide which one is best for your home.

A Custom Services is here for all of your heating and cooling needs in Chicago, IL. Call us at (773) 831-4891 to schedule an appointment. 

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