Heat Pump vs. Furnace—Which Heating System is Right for You?

Even though the South is known for our hot and muggy summers, we can have pretty cold winters too, so heating is essential. But of course, the decision isn’t whether or not to get heating; it’s which appliance you are going to install to heat your home! Heat pumps and furnaces are your two main options. We’ll explain the pros and cons of each.

Heat Pump

What Is It?

A heat pump almost always runs on electricity, and it does not generate heat on its own. Instead, it transfers heat from outdoors to indoors. It can even cool your home by utilizing the same process in reverse.

What Are Some Options?

With heat pumps, you have the option of a ducted or ductless system. A ductless mini-split is more focused in that it can only heat or cool one room at a time. As a tradeoff, these are more efficient since they don’t lose energy by traveling through ducts. A ducted system is bigger but ultimately has a lower installation cost since you don’t need a system for every room in your home. However, you could end up losing 30% or more of your efficiency by traveling through ductwork.


Heat pumps don’t generate heat, instead merely transferring heat from outdoors to indoors. This transfer process leads to a considerable increase in efficiency when compared to a heat-generating furnace since it takes far less energy to move heat than to burn fuel and create it.

If you decide to go ductless, then you have the potential for incredible customization. With ductless, each room in your home has a unit, so you’ll be able to set the temperature of every part of your house. This is great for families that are always fighting over the thermostat setting with a typical furnace.


Heat pumps, especially ductless, cost more to install than a typical furnace. Of course, you should recoup some of that in savings on your month to month bills, but the upfront cost can turn some people away.

Mini-splits are considered by some not to be aesthetically pleasing since they hang on your wall, though the models are getting sleeker and sleeker every year.

Lastly, heat pumps tend to lose efficiency in freezing weather since there isn’t much heat to transfer out of the outside air to bring inside. That won’t be an issue for us in Alabama since our winters don’t get as cold as other parts of the country, but if there were a few, unusually frigid nights, it could cause issues.


What is it?

Furnaces burn fuel for heat. Typically, this is either fuel oil or natural gas, but some furnaces use alternative fuels. No matter the fuel, fans blow the now heated air through ductwork that distributes the warm air throughout your home.


Furnaces have been the go-to heating option for most of the country for decades. The reason is that they are reliable. Even throughout the coldest winters, a furnace will heat effectively. They also last for years. If you choose a furnace, you are sacrificing efficiency for power.


Furnaces have certain requirements. You’ll need ductwork already installed, or you’ll need to spend money on an expensive installation job. There are a few electric furnaces on the market, but for the most part, you are forced to burn fossil fuels of some kind. Even natural gas, the so-called “cleanest fossil fuel”, is worse for the environment than sustainably sourced electricity.

Overall, you’ll have to make your own decision based on what is best for your family. A heat pump is more efficient, but the furnace will be able to withstand just about anything winter throws at it. Either way, Anderson has got you covered!

Our technicians at Anderson Plumbing, Heating, & Electric can give your HVAC system the routine checkup in needs. Give us a call, we’re available 24/7 at (334) 231-6980 or fill out an online contact form.