Heat pump vs forced air: Which is the best heating system for you? If you are not sure which system to choose for your heating installation needs, than read below.

We all want to have a comfortable indoor environment. However, in winter, when the temperatures start to drop, our focus starts shifting to the heating systems of our houses.

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If you are looking for new heating equipment, you may already know the confusion surrounding the heat pump vs. forced air heating systems.

Which of them is cheaper to install and maintain? Which may need frequent home air conditioner repair?

Many homeowners do not know what suits their needs best. 

This is why we wrote this post for you: to help you decide what suits your heating needs best.

Shall we dive straight into business?

Forced Air Heating vs Heat Pumps: Forced Air Furnaces Overview

These are some of the most common home heating systems in the United States.

In this system, the heat is generated by whatever kind of furnace you have in your home. It can be gas, oil, propane or another source of fuel.

Now, the job of the furnace is to heat the air around it. Then, there is a blower fan that propels the air through ductwork into the vents and the different rooms.

As the heated air enters the room, the cold air is forced out through another ductwork. This exit ductwork is what is called the cold air return system. It returns the cold air back to the furnace for heating and later redistribution throughout the house.

This cycle continues until the house is heated enough or until the house achieves the temperature you have set on your thermostat.

Heat Pump or Forced Air: Heat Pump Overview

As you have seen, a forced air heating system heats the air and transfers it to the other rooms in the house. It does so by burning fuel, which in turn heats the air. So if it breaks, you would need furnace repair services.

A heat pump does not heat the air at all. Yes, it will warm your house, but not by heating the air.

How does it work, then…

A heat pump only transfers heat from one place to another. In short, it is the same working principle used in air conditioners.

In winter, a heat pump will transfer heat from the outside to the inside of your house. It will reverse the process when it is summer to cool the house. Since it works all year, it is ideal to schedule heat pump service at least biannually.

For this transfer to happen, you will need two systems: the indoor and outdoor units. This way, it is possible to move air from the inside to the outside and vice versa.

Advantages of Forced Air Heating System

Are you wondering when the best time is to go for a forced air furnace?

These advantages may help you decide whether these systems are suitable for you or not.

It is ideal if you already have a central air conditioning system

If you have a central air conditioner, you can get a forced air system to generate heat for you in winter.

In case you are wondering why…

First, a forced air heating system uses the same ducts as an air conditioner.

Secondly, you will have something for winter and another for summer; you will be sorted all year round.

Humidity Control

With an air conditioner, you already have a dehumidification function in summer. As the system takes the heat outside, it takes with it the excess humidity.

In winter, you may want to get a forced air system if you struggle with dried air. They are a great option if you would like to humidify the air.

Heating even in extreme temperatures

With your forced air system, you can keep heating the house comfortably even after the temperature drops below freezing point(1).

You can keep using natural gas or whatever fuel to keep your house warm when it is freezing. You cannot say the same about heat pumps. This is one outstanding difference between heat pump and forced air heating. 


If you do a heat pump vs air conditioner or furnace comparison, you will realize air conditioners last longer. 

 An air conditioner or furnace works only a few months in the year. It, therefore, makes sense for them to last longer than a heat pump that works all year long. 

Disadvantages of forced air systems

These aspects of forced air systems may make you think twice before getting this system.

They are expensive to run.

If you compare heat pump vs gas furnace, you will realize gas pumps are pricier to run.

A forced air system actually burns fuel to heat the air. This is expensive to sustain. It is the most effective way if you live in areas that face extreme winters. However, the costs may be outrageous if you have to keep heating your house all winter long.

Also, more fuel is used in propelling the heated air to other rooms.

Ductwork Issues

If you have a forced air system, you must ensure the filtration system is clean and working well.

When getting a new system, ensure that the existing ductwork is clean before pairing them together. HVAC technicians recommend getting a forced air system when new ductwork is constructed.

If you ignore this, your chances of facing filtration issues are very high. You don’t want to have to face poor air quality.

Blower Fan Issues

For starters, they can be noisy while in operation.

Secondly, they may cease working if they are clogged in dust or have other issues. You will, therefore, have to call for air conditioning repair Santa Clarita Ca.

Also, be on the watch out for the blower fan defects. They can be noisy to operate and may also.

They also consume additional energy to propel the heated air throughout the house.

Heat Pump vs Forced Air: Advantages of Heat Pump

If you are at a crossroads, these advantages are a sure way to know that heat pumps are the ideal option for you.

High Energy Efficiency

Heat pumps are a great choice to save on energy costs.

A heat pump does not heat air. It instead just moves warm air from one place to another, an affair that consumes less power. This gets much better if you get a heat pump with a higher SEER rating.

On the other hand, forced air systems use fuel to heat air, making it expensive to run.

Silent operation

If you own an electric heat pump system, you will enjoy the quiet operation that comes with it.

They have an outside compressor that does not produce as much noise. You will not hear them operate when you are indoors.

2-in-1 system

With a heat pump system, you will not need a separate air conditioner for the summer.

A heat pump does two functions, cooling and heating. It reverses the process, and voila, you have the temperatures you have.

Having two systems in one comes with a lot of savings. For instance, you will have only one system to maintain.

Environment Friendly

Heat pumps are environmentally friendlier than forced air systems.

Most modern heat pumps use the R-410a refrigerant which is gentler to the environment(2).

On the other side, a forced air system has to burn fossil fuel to provide you the heat. These non-renewable sources of energy are environmentally friendly.

Heat Pump vs Forced Air: Disadvantages of Heat Pumps

These heat pump cons may be why you would instead go for a forced air system.

Heat Pumps are Not Good for Cold Climates

As you already know, a heat pump draws warm air from the outdoors and transfers it indoors.

However, the system may have no more heat to transfer indoors when the temperatures go below freezing point.

This way, you may need another heat source, such as a gas furnace.

If you live in colder climates, you should anticipate your heat pump losing its efficiency.

This is to say, heat pumps are only effective in regions that have mild climatic conditions.

Higher Upfront Cost

The money to acquire a heat pump would be higher than that used to acquire a forced air system.

But with a heat pump, you get a cooling and heating system. It does make sense to pay higher to acquire it.

Also, since heat pumps do not use much energy, you will save on operation costs.

A forced air system could be a much more favorable option if you do not have a higher upfront budget.

Routine Maintenance Needs

All cooling and heating systems do need maintenance to keep them going.

However, if you have an electric heat pump, you must perform routine maintenance to keep them in good working condition.

You may face dirty sock syndrome if you live in a humid environment. This condition is caused by bacteria and fungus growing on the heat pump’s coils.

The bacteria find a great thriving space when condensation accumulates on the coils. If this happens, you will notice a stuffy smell when your heat pump operates.

You have to keep your system clean to prevent mold or bacterial accumulation.

If you are not vigilant about this, you may have to replace your coil to fix this issue.

Look for “residential HVAC contractors near me” to help maintain your heat pump in great condition. 

Forced Air vs Heat Pump Frequently Asked Questions

Which is a heat pump or forced air?

This depends on your needs. A heat pump may be ideal for you if you live in a decently mild climate. This is because it will not provide adequate heating if your temperatures drop below freezing.

Also, heat pumps are an attractive option for people looking to save money in terms of running; they are super energy efficient.

On the other hand, if your winters are severely cold, you will benefit from a forced air system operation.

What is the downside to a heat pump?

Heat pumps are not as effective in freezing temperatures. Many homeowners with heat pumps are forced to buy supplemental heat sources in winter.

Can you heat a house with just a heat pump?

Yes, you can comfortably heat your house with a heat pump. In fact, you can heat the entire house, as long as you have the correct size heat pump.

The issue will just come in when you experience below-freezing temperatures. However, above that, you are safe to heat your house with just your heat pump.

How do I know if I have conventional forced air heat or a heat pump?

If you already have a system in place, but are unsure whether it is a conventional system or a heat pump, use this method to figure it out.

Turn your thermostat to heating mode. Adjust the thermostat temperatures until it starts a heating cycle. Once it is in full operation, walk out to the outside system. If the outside unit is on and blowing air, the system is a heat pump.

Final Thoughts On Heat Pump vs Forced Air

Getting the right heating system for your house can be challenging. You sure want to get something that will suit your budget but still be accessible and affordable to manage.

You have two options: a heat pump or forced air systems. None of these is universally correct; what is suitable for your heating needs may not be suitable for the person next door.

Just be sure to consider the installation cost, cost of running and maintaining, and most importantly, the climatic factor.

If you are unsure which one is most suitable for you, contact us at HVAC Santa Clarita. We would gladly guide you to make a perfect idea.


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