You may have purchased a home that has an inadequate or failing heating unit. You may have a heating system in your present home that is nearing its end of service life. In either case, you are likely wondering what the best way is to heat your Southern California home each winter. Here at We Care Plumbing, Heating, & Air, we serve Southern California. Our customers ask if it is better to get a new heat pump or a furnace to replace an existing unit. Whichever of these two types of heating units you choose, you will likely save money each month on either gas or electricity with a newer, more energy-efficient unit.
There are still a lot of people that don’t know much about heat pumps. Most people purchase air-exchange heat pumps. These units sit outside your home and change the state of refrigerant using heat exchangers, coils, and blowers to create heat from the outside air. That heated air is blown throughout your home using your ductwork system. The reason that a heat pump can take chilly air outside and blow hot air inside has to do with the extremely low boiling point of the refrigerant used. The refrigerant boils at temperatures well below freezing.
The nice thing about heat pumps is that they can heat your home in winter and cool your home in the summer. Heat pumps have a reversing valve that sends the refrigerant in different directions for heating and cooling needs.
Another type of heat pump is the geothermal heat pump. They are incredibly energy efficient, taking their ability to heat and cool by using an exchange of fluid lines buried underground. They also heat and cool your home. Unfortunately, they are very expensive to install because of the cost of excavation needed to bury the fluid lines in your yard.
For an air-exchange heat pump system, you need to have an outdoor heat pump unit, ductwork, and electricity. If there is not already a pad for the unit to sit on, that will need to be laid in concrete. Older homes may need an electrical panel upgrade or the addition of an electrical receptacle. Heat pumps tend to last about 15 or more years.
Furnaces also blow heated air through your home in the ductwork. The difference is that they only use electricity to operate the blower and other electrical components. Furnaces create a chemical reaction with natural gas or propane to create the heat that is blown through your home’s ductwork after passing a heat exchanger. There are also electric furnaces that create heat through resistance and blow it through your home.
In Southern California, areas served with natural gas tend to use natural gas furnaces. Areas off the natural gas delivery lines use propane stored in tanks on your property. In other areas of the country, there are oil-burning furnaces as well.
Your furnace will be housed indoors in a basement or other hidden area of your home. You will also need a natural gas line or a propane tank and a propane line feeding the furnace. We may need to create a leveled pad for the furnace to sit on, like in your basement. The unit may need a new electrical socket. There needs to be an exhaust vent for the combustion gases. As with a heat pump, you will either need existing ductwork, or it will have to be retrofitted to your home. Furnaces tend to last 20 years or more.
Heat Pump Pros and Cons
The amazing thing about heat pumps is that they are one unit that will heat and cool your home. That saves you money since you only need to maintain one unit. They are incredibly energy efficient. They deliver more watts of equivalents of heat than the watts they use in creating warmth. They are perfectly capable of warming Southern California homes in winter. In colder climates that are often well below freezing, they are less capable and efficient.
On the negative side, all electricity is often more expensive than using gas. The heat produced by heat pumps is not as warm as the heat generated by a furnace. On average, they have a life span of about 5 years less than a furnace, even with regular maintenance. If you are closer to the ocean and the salty air, you may get less than the typical 15-year heat pump lifespan.
Furnace Pros and Cons
The heat produced by furnaces is warmer than the heat produced by heat pumps. Also, you will likely save money running a furnace when natural gas prices have not spiked. Electricity costs in California tend to be high. For this reason, electric furnaces are not as common. Also, electric furnaces are not as energy efficient as gas furnaces.
Furnaces last longer than heat pumps because they are only used in colder weather, not year-round. Furnaces also have fewer moving parts than heat pumps. Another reason for the greater longevity of furnaces is that they are indoor-only units. Your heat pump is outside all year long in all kinds of weather.
On the negative side, furnaces only serve you in the colder seasons. Those without gas service will have to factor in the cost of providing it to your home. This will involve getting a natural gas line to your home or setting up a propane tank and propane lines. Since a furnace produces combustion gases to create heat, you will need carbon monoxide detectors in your home for safety.
Top-Rated Heating Installation Provider Serving All of Southern California
At We Care Plumbing, Heating, & Air, we provide all your heating installation needs in Southern California and the Inland Empire. We serve San Diego County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernadino County, and Riverside County. We have offices in Murrieta, Orange, and Temecula. We serve tens of thousands of Southern California residents every year. We provide heating and air conditioning services including installations, repair, and maintenance. We are also your local plumbing service, and we perform indoor air quality services. Our technicians are NATE-certified. If you require an emergency repair, we provide 24/7 service, and we provide financing of installations on approved credit.
By holding to our company’s name, we have held Better Business Bureau accreditation for 20 years. We also have been awarded Contractor of the Year by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. We have been an Angie’s List Super Service Award winner. We service all makes and models of heating and cooling systems and are a Lennox Premier Dealer and a Mitsubishi Electric Preferred Diamond Contractor. We are also certified by the EPA.
We have several local charities that we support. We also support our local community colleges. At your request, we will donate a portion of the profits from the service call to your choice of our supported charities.
Call us today at We Care Plumbing, Heating, & Air in Southern California for all your heating installation needs. We live up to our name as our creed.