What Is The Difference Between Heat Pump And Forced Air?

Difference between a heat pump and forced air

Regardless of where you reside, choosing the type of heating system to use at home can be a quite complex problem.

When you are faced with the choice of forced air and heat pump, knowing the pros and cons of either can go a long way in helping your choice.

However, your location is the most important factor to consider when selecting the system that best suits you, also you should know the difference between a heat pump and forced air.

What is the difference between a Heat pump and Forced air?

Forced air simply refers to the duct system and the air handler. It is a system where a blower is used to move air via a duct system. The term, however, does not suggest a specific heat source.

Heat pump, on the other hand, talks about a system that circulated heat. The heat pump serves as the source of the cool (warm) air. This tempered air is thereafter circulated using the forced air system.

What Is A Heat Pump?

A heat pump is a component of a central cooling and heating system that uses the air outside to cool a home and summer and heat it in winter.

What this means is that the heat pump will serve you as an air conditioner when things are hot and as a heater when things get cold. This and many more reasons are what makes it quite versatile.

Aside from its apparent flexibility, you will also find heat pumps to be energy efficient. Just picture the heat pump as a system that constantly transfers warm air from one point to the other depending on the time of the year.

During the winter season, the pump sucks air from the air outside and spread it throughout your house. During the summer, the hot air from your home is expelled thus creating a cooler indoor environment.

What Makes The Heat Pump Cool?

There are several reasons why you may want to opt for a heat pump, here are a few of them:

Energy Efficiency

Heat pumps are usually able to conserve energy because transferring heat is quite easier than generating it. it would surprise you to note that when it is cold outside there will always be a reasonable amount of heat out there waiting to get pumped.

In ideal situations, a heat pump is usually able to move about 300 percent more energy than it consumes.

On the other hand, a high-efficiency gas furnace gives you about a 90 percent efficiency rate.

Heat pumps get their power from electricity; hence you can cut down on fuel consumption. It is also over 100% efficient when used in temperate climates and can be used as either an air conditioner or a heater.

Cost of installation

When it comes to the installation of heat pump systems, it is less expensive than what furnace installation would cost.

Furnaces would ordinarily need a rather extensive system of ventilation which leads to an increase in the cost incurred in your home.

Quality of air

Because heat pumps do not use combustion, they do not emit carbon monoxide. It simply means that you have one less reason to be worried about the leakage of carbon monoxide.

Also, this system gives you air that is humid hence you don’t have to worry about your skin drying out.

What You Should Know About Forced Air

The chances of hearing about forced air are quite high especially if you are searching for another home heating system. What does forced air mean?

You won’t be the first to ask this question especially due to the presence of many home heating systems in the market and as such one may get a bit confused.

A forced-air heating system is a heating system that helps in the distribution of heat all through your home using air as the conveyor.

In this system, the heated air will travel via a duct system and get expelled via vents into other areas of your home to maintain a certain temperature.

The temperature is determined by what you set your thermostat to, and the moment the temperature you desire is attained, the heat gets shut off till there is a drop in temperature.

The primary difference between the diverse kinds of forced air systems is the kind of equipment that gets the air heated. For example, you may have an electric furnace, a gas furnace, or a heat pump.

All these types of systems could heat the air and when they are paired with a fan or a blower, they can spread heated air all through your house.

Tips to be mindful of:

  • They are quite cheap to get installed and run when compared with boilers or even the hydronic systems that use complicated plumbing.
  • Because they heat the air directly, they get your home heated up rather quickly unlike what is obtainable with radiator-based systems.
  • They assist in improving the quality of your indoor air by sieving the incoming air.
  • They are quite simple and reliable and they come with parts that can be replaced easily such as belts, fans, and motors.
  • Also, the central air conditioning can be added easily unlike what is obtainable with steam boiler systems or hot water.
  • They can be extremely energy efficient.

Comparison of Efficiency

When comparing the efficiency of heat pumps and forced air systems, there are several factors to consider.

The primary aspect to focus on is the energy efficiency of the system, which is measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratings (SEER).

A higher SEER rating indicates a more energy-efficient system, resulting in lower energy bills and a reduced environmental impact.

Heat pumps generally have better energy efficiency compared to forced air systems. This is because heat pumps function by transferring heat, rather than generating it

They can extract heat from the outside air, even in cold temperatures, and transfer it indoors to heat your home.

Air-source heat pumps typically run on electricity, making them more energy-efficient than gas, propane, or oil furnaces often used in forced air systems.

However, the efficiency of a heat pump decreases as the outdoor temperature drops. In regions with extremely cold winters, heat pumps may struggle to provide adequate heating, making forced air systems a more reliable option.

It’s essential to consider your geographic location and climate when deciding which system is best suited for your home.

In terms of SEER ratings, modern heat pumps can achieve ratings between 14-21, while the minimum SEER rating for new forced air systems is 13 for central air conditioners and 14 for gas furnaces.

The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the system, so keep this in mind when comparing the two.

To summarize, the key differences in efficiency between heat pumps and forced air systems include:

  • Heat pumps generally have better energy efficiency due to their method of heat transfer.
  • Climate and geographic location play a role in the system’s effectiveness.
  • Heat pumps have higher SEER ratings on average compared to forced air systems.

By carefully considering the efficiency of both heat pumps and forced air systems, as well as other factors such as climate, you can make an informed decision on which system is best for your home.

Cost Evaluation

Let’s evaluate the differences in cost between heat pumps and forced air systems concerning installation, maintenance, repair, and energy costs.

Installation: The installation cost for a heat pump can range from $3,500 to $7,500, depending on the model and size.

On the other hand, installing a forced air system can be more affordable, with costs ranging from $1,600 to $9,700, mainly depending on whether you choose a gas or electric furnace.

Maintenance: Regular maintenance for both systems is essential to maximize their lifespan and efficiency. Heat pump maintenance is typically less expensive, as it requires fewer components and repairs. However, forced air systems, including furnaces, are also known to be affordable to maintain.

Repair: Repair costs for heat pumps can range from $100 – $2,000, depending on the issue. Forced air systems have similar repair costs, but may require more repairs over time due to having more components.

Energy Costs: Heat pumps are known for their energy efficiency, especially in mild climates. This can result in lower energy costs compared to forced air systems. However, in colder regions, a forced air system with a high-efficiency furnace may be a more cost-effective option.

Incentives: In some cases, choosing a heat pump or a highly efficient forced air system can qualify you for federal and state tax incentives, as well as utility rebates. Make sure to check with your local authorities and utility companies for any available incentives when making your decision.

To make educated decisions about your heating system, consider the factors mentioned above based on your location, budget, and specific needs.

Climate Considerations

One important factor to consider when choosing between a heat pump and forced air system is the climate in which you live. Both systems perform differently depending on the outdoor temperature and the specific demands of your region’s seasonal changes.

In cold climates, where winter temperatures often drop below freezing, a forced air system with a gas or oil furnace might be a better choice. These systems can produce a higher amount of heat and maintain indoor comfort even during harsh winter conditions.

Forced-air systems can effectively heat your home, but they do not have cooling capabilities, so you may still need to invest in a separate air conditioning system for the summer months.

On the other hand, heat pumps are more suitable for moderate to mild climates, where winter temperatures rarely reach below freezing. Heat pumps can operate efficiently in both heating and cooling modes, making them ideal for regions with more temperate weather.

Since heat pumps transfer heat from the outdoor air, their efficiency decreases as the outdoor temperature drops. This makes them less effective in very cold climates, but they can still be an efficient choice for those in milder regions.

In the summer months, heat pumps can reverse their operation to provide cooling by transferring heat from indoors to outdoors.

This feature makes them a cost-effective option for both heating and cooling in moderate climates, as you won’t need to invest in separate heating and cooling systems.

It’s important to consider the specific temperature range and climate conditions in your region when deciding between a heat pump and forced air system.

By understanding how these systems perform in different climates, you can choose the best option for your home and ensure an efficient, comfortable living environment throughout the year.

Environmental Impact

When considering a heating system for your home, it’s essential to take into account the environmental impact.

Both heat pumps and forced air systems have different effects on the environment, involving factors such as energy efficiency, carbon footprint, and adherence to EPA regulations.

Heat pumps are known for their environmentally friendly nature. They operate by transferring heat from the outside air or ground into your home, requiring less electricity than forced air systems.

As a result, they produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, effectively reducing your carbon footprint.

Additionally, heat pumps are more energy-efficient and comply with EPA regulations, which makes them a favorable choice for many homeowners.

On the other hand, traditional forced air systems, which mainly consist of furnaces, use natural gas, propane, or electricity to generate heat.

These systems tend to have a higher carbon footprint compared to heat pumps due to their reliance on fossil fuels and higher energy consumption.

However, it’s essential to note that not all heat pumps are created equal – some models may generate noise pollution which can be an issue in certain urban and suburban areas with strict noise codes.

It is crucial to select an efficient model that adheres to your local regulations while considering the environmental impacts of your heating system.

In summary:

  • Heat pumps are more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient than forced air systems.
  • Forced air systems produce more greenhouse gas emissions and have a higher carbon footprint.
  • Noise pollution may be a concern with some heat pump models, so it is essential to choose a suitable model for your area.

By considering the environmental impact of your choice in heating systems, you can make a more informed decision that benefits both your home and our planet.

The Role of Fuel

Fuel plays a crucial role in distinguishing between heat pump and forced air systems. Let’s dive into the different types of fuels used in these systems and how they affect their performance.

Heat pumps use electricity as their primary energy source to transfer heat. They move heat from one place to another, depending on whether they need to heat or cool your home.

For example, during the winter months, they extract heat from the outside air or ground and bring it indoors.

Conversely, in summer, heat pumps take heat from inside your home and transfer it outside. This energy-efficient method of heating and cooling helps you save on utility costs.

On the other hand, forced air systems generate heat by burning various types of fuel. Some standard fuels used in these systems include:

  • Gas: Natural gas is a common and efficient fuel source for forced air furnaces. It is widely available and offers a moderately low-cost heating option for most homes.
  • Oil: Oil-fired furnaces use heating oil to generate heat. Although not as popular as natural gas, oil furnaces are an option in areas where natural gas is not easily accessible.
  • Propane: Propane furnaces are similar to natural gas furnaces in terms of efficiency and performance. They can be a useful option for those who do not have access to natural gas.

The choice of fuel in a forced air system directly impacts its efficiency, cost, and environmental impact.

While natural gas and propane are relatively clean-burning fuels, oil furnaces can produce more emissions.

Conversely, heat pumps do not burn any fuel, making them an environmentally friendly option for heating and cooling your home.

In summary, the main difference between heat pump and forced air systems lies in their use of fuel.

Heat pumps rely on electricity to transfer heat, while forced air systems burn various fuels, such as gas, oil, or propane, to generate heat.

Keeping these differences in mind can help you decide which system is best for your home’s specific needs.

How To Maximize Your Heating System?

What Makes The Heat Pump Cool

There are a few things you have to do to ensure that you get the right quality and temperature flowing through your home. Here a few of them:

Clean the filters

The filter usually traps dust, debris, and allergens. If it is not used, the air that you breathe indoors will have a poorer quality.

Therefore, if you want to have the best quality of air while ensuring that the equipment functions optimally, you need to keep the filter clean regularly. You should check it once every three months to get the best result.

Ensure to schedule a maintenance

You should consider having an expert check the equipment before you first turn it on and when you first turn it off for the first season.

An expert will help run a check on the equipment to ascertain if there is any issue while also determining the best approach to adopt and deploy to have them rectified.

Having regular service calls scheduled will assist you to discover the challenges before they become too expensive and large to rectify.

Have the ductwork Inspected

If you intend to maximize your heater you need to keep the ducts in the right condition. Carry out regular checks on the ducts to discover the presence of damages.

Dings and dents in the metal could avert a situation where the air doesn’t freely flow through the vents.

Fixing the dents and holes helps ensure that the hot air can travel efficiently via the vents while keeping your house warm.

Have the register checked

You should occasionally take walks through your home to search for each of the registers. Also, make sure that the registers are not covered with any pets, furniture, and blankets.

If there is anything that is impeding them, take out some time to remove them.

Also, ensure that the air can flow without interruption all through your house so that you do not lose heat cooling your furniture against the rest of your house.

Get your old thermostat upgraded

Old thermostats are usually able to lead to problems for the owners of homes. They usually make it quite difficult to ascertain the home temperature and to turn off and on the heater.

If your home, however, has an older thermostat, you should consider getting it upgraded.

You should also consider opting for a programmable thermostat instead which permits homeowners to determine the temperature at different times of the day.

Ensuring that the temperature is lower when people are not around or asleep will go a long way in cutting energy costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why must I replace my current forced-air or heat pump?

You may consider the possibility of replacing your current heat control system if it’s inefficient, old or needs to be repaired.

For instance, modern systems are much more efficient thus making them a better alternative.

How can I select the right cooling system?

You should first ensure that the unit is rightly sized. The expert should help you with relevant calculations with your home in mind.

You should also consider any comfort issue that may arise. Also, go for products that have respectable reviews and brand reputation.

How expensive are these systems?

There are a couple of factors that affect the cost of air conditioning or a heating system.

These factors include the size of your home and the condition and type of the ductwork that is installed as well as the accessories you may need for same.


Now that you know the difference between a heat pump and forced air systems, you must do the right thing to make the right choice.

Understanding factors such as your home needs, budget, and size of your home are pretty helpful in making the right choice per time. You will also do well by going for brands that are tested and trusted.


Other articles you may also like:

1 thought on “What Is The Difference Between Heat Pump And Forced Air?”

Comments are closed.