Heat Pump Vs. Furnace: Which One Should I Install in My Waco Home?

When it’s time to replace the heating system in your Waco, TX area home, you will want to compare different types of heating equipment and how they perform. For many local homeowners, the choice comes down to either a heat pump vs a furnace. To help you make an informed decision regarding your home’s new heating system, Evergreen Heating and Cooling shares how heat pumps and furnaces work, as well as the features and attributes that may make each type of unit the right choice for you.

How Furnaces and Heat Pumps Work

Before you can make a decision between buying a heat pump or a furnace, you need to understand the basics of each heating system type. Both furnaces and heat pumps are installed as central forced air heating systems, meaning a central unit warms air that is distributed throughout the home via a duct system. Furnaces are installed indoors and contain a heat exchanger as well as blower assembly to distribute warm air. Heat pumps are installed outdoors as part of a split system, paired with an indoor air handling unit that contains the indoor coil as well as the blower assembly.

In addition to the differences in the type of equipment these systems use, the way each system operates is unique from the other.

  • Furnaces use energy to generate heat. A fossil fuel such as natural gas, liquid propane, or heating oil is combusted to generate heat energy, or electricity is used to power heating elements. The heat that is generated is added to air to raise its temperature.
  • Heat pumps don’t generate heat; they transfer it. They operate using electricity only. Heat energy is absorbed from one source and transferred to another. Air-source heat pumps pull heat energy from the outdoor air in the winter, and the system’s refrigerant and indoor coil transfer it to the indoor air supply.

Heat Pump Vs. Furnace: Which System Is Right for Your Home?

The choice between a heat pump or a furnace is one you should consider when replacing your home’s existing heating system. Let’s take a look at how these two heating system types compare on the factors most important to Waco area homeowners.

Energy Source

Electricity is the most widely used energy source for space heating in Texas homes. Approximately 61 percent of homes in Texas have electric heating, while only 35 percent use natural gas for heating and 3 percent have propane heat. While electrical service is present in all modern homes, not all residences are connected to a natural gas utility, and using propane requires storing fuel on the property in a tank as well as piping to supply appliances inside the home.

Your heating system choices can be limited by the availability of different fuel sources at your home. If you do not already have natural gas service or a propane hookup, installing this infrastructure to support a new fuel-burning furnace can add significant cost to your heating system replacement project. If you only have electric service, your choices are a heat pump or an electric furnace. If you have access to natural gas or propane, you may also wish to consider installing these types of furnaces.

Energy Efficiency

The energy efficiency of heating systems is important in many homeowners’ decision-making process, as the efficiency of a heater impacts ongoing operating costs. New heat pump heating efficiency is measured by HSPF (heating seasonal performance factor) and furnace efficiency is measured by AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency). 

Heat pump and furnace energy efficiency is as follows:

  • Electric heat pumps can be as much as 300 percent efficient, transferring as many as 3 units of energy for every one unit of electricity used to operate the system.
  • Electric furnaces are 100 percent efficient, as no electric energy is wasted in the generation of heat.
  • Natural gas furnaces offer AFUE ratings from 80 percent to around 98 percent.
  • Propane furnaces have AFUE ratings that range from 80 percent to 98 percent.
  • Oil furnaces come with AFUE ratings between 84 percent to 95 percent.

If your goal is to maximize energy efficiency and keep heating expenses low, an electric heat pump wins the heat pump vs. furnace debate. Electric furnaces offer great energy efficiency, too. Be sure to compare the HSPF and AFUE ratings of any model you are considering for your home.


Winters in Waco, TX are mild compared to other areas of the country, which makes heat pumps a good option for home heating. Conventional air-source heat pumps decline in energy efficiency when the outdoor temperature falls below about 40 degrees, and at around 20 degrees, they aren’t as efficient as furnaces. We don’t see many days at these temperatures here, so most Waco households will find a heat pump system is an efficient option during the winter months.

When we do experience extreme winter weather, a furnace is a superior choice. Fuel-burning furnaces produce hotter air and can raise the temperature of a home faster than a heat pump. If winter storms knock out a home’s electrical power, a heat pump cannot operate and even fuel-burning furnaces require some electricity to run. A generator will be necessary to power either HVAC system in the event of an electrical utility outage.

Contact Evergreen for Heating Installation Services

Choosing a heat pump or a furnace depends on the factors that apply to your household and those you find personally important. Electric heat is used across the majority of Texas homes, making heat pumps and electric furnaces the leading choices, but that doesn’t mean you cannot consider a propane or natural gas furnace, too. For professional advice about whether a heat pump or a furnace is best for your home and to receive a quote for installation of your new heating system, call Evergreen Heating and Cooling today.

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401 S 13th St,
Waco, TX 76706





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