Heat Pump vs. Gas Furnace in Ontario

When faced with the choice of heating your home using either a heat pump or a gas furnace, the decision-making process typically revolves around three key aspects: efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and maintenance demands. As the homeowner, it is critical to assess your heating requirements and financial considerations, as well as to delve into the maintenance prerequisites of both systems, while also taking into account the climate conditions of where you live in Ontario.

If you need help choosing between a heat pump vs. a gas furnace, M&K Heating and Air Conditioning is here to help! We’re available 24/7/365 days a year including after-hours, weekends, and holidays! Our team offers a selection of discounts and financing options that can help you save big on your new heating equipment!

Book a consultation appointment with one of our home comfort advisors today! All at-home consultations include a complimentary new system purchase quote!

Gas Furnace Definition:

Gas furnaces are standard fixtures in most Ontario homes, employing combustion as a means to generate heat. (Note: Electric furnaces, on the other hand, rely on electric coils.) Both furnace types, i.e., gas and electric, rely on external temperatures and are adept at providing consistent and comfortable warmth during extreme cold spells. To tackle the scorching summer months in Ontario, a separate cooling system is required alongside furnaces to maintain indoor comfort.

A typical gas furnace operates through a quartet of primary components: a heat exchanger, responsible for transferring heat from the furnace to the airflow; a blower fan, which subsequently circulates the air heated by the heat exchanger; and a flue or vent that guarantees the safe discharge of gaseous byproducts. Central to this ensemble is the burner, where fuel combustion takes place to generate the desired heat output.

Heat Pump Definition:

Heat pumps are versatile systems with a dual functionality: they excel at both heating and cooling. The primary air source for a heat pump, commonly available in either ducted or ductless configurations, is crucial. This system employs both outdoor and indoor components equally, connected by a refrigerant line equipped with a reversing valve. Operating on electricity, heat pumps harness thermal energy from the outdoor air and transport it inside. Once heated, the air circulates through your dwelling, achieving the desired temperature—be it cooler during summer or warmer throughout winter. Additionally, heat pumps draw moisture from the air, gently warming it to provide naturally humid surroundings, which is less drying for your skin. Functioning effectively even in temperatures as low as 5˚C, they might experience reduced efficiency beyond this point, potentially struggling to provide ample warmth for a comfortably cozy home. Alternate versions of conventional heat pumps exist, capable of maintaining heat output down to -30˚C; however, their effectiveness typically diminishes at around -15˚C. At such instances, supplementary systems like electric baseboards or backup furnaces might be activated to ensure consistent comfort within the home.

Heat pump vs gas furnace: which is cheaper?

The costs and energy efficiency of both heat pumps and gas furnaces can vary tremendously These factors are closely tied to factors such as the unit's size and the thermal needs of the residence or structure requiring heating or cooling. Generally, heat pump installation (i.e., the upfront cost) tends to come with a higher initial price tag compared to furnace installation. However, the operational costs associated with heat pumps are notably lower, as heat pumps tend to require less maintenance through their lifetime.

Although heat pumps boast higher energy efficiency, it's noteworthy that more advanced high-efficiency natural gas furnaces can offer superior energy savings, especially in colder climates. This advantage becomes particularly pronounced when fuel prices are concurrently low. For regions like Ontario, where winter temperatures average around -15˚C and can plummet to -30˚C, relying solely on a heat pump might not suffice to maintain indoor comfort. In these scenarios, an optimal approach often involves integrating both a cold-climate heat pump or a conventional option alongside a high-efficiency gas furnace.

So, which is actually cheaper? It depends on the building. Consult with an HVAC technician to discuss optimal savings and efficiency, as they will be able to give you a closer perspective on what’s best based on your property’s specs.

Is it worth replacing a gas furnace with a heat pump?

Heat pumps present a more energy-efficient, environmentally conscious, and economical alternative to furnaces, which primarily rely on gas and oil for operation. Operating solely on electricity, heat pumps generate no harmful byproducts. A notable advantage of transitioning from a gas furnace to a heat pump is the reduced need for annual maintenance. In addition, adopting heat pumps can lead to substantial energy consumption reductions ranging from 30% to 60%, resulting in overall lower energy expenditures.

However, it's worth acknowledging that in regions where winter temperatures consistently plummet to -10˚C or even -15˚C (a common occurrence in much of Ontario), a heat pump might not be as effective in maintaining your home's warmth and comfort as a gas or electric furnace could be. In such instances, supplementing the heat pump with a furnace becomes imperative to deliver the additional heat required for optimal comfort.

Can a heat pump replace a furnace in Ontario?

While it's technically feasible to replace a furnace with a heat pump, in the context of Ontario, it might not be a prudent choice. Heat pump ownership might be viable in regions with milder climates, but Ontario's weather is consistently below freezing during winter days and nights. Some parts of Ontario can experience temperatures plummeting below -30˚C with ease, making a sole reliance on a heat pump less advisable. Opting instead for a heat pump alongside a complementary gas or electric furnace is a wiser approach. Although this combination might incur higher maintenance costs, it ensures your home remains snug and inviting, even when temperatures dip drastically during the bitterly cold winter months.

Not sure whether a heat pump would benefit you and your family? If so, we encourage homeowners in Ontario to reach out to M&K Heating and Air Conditioning to schedule a consultation appointment with one of our home comfort advisors! They’ll help you make the best decision for your needs and comfort while providing you a complimentary new system purchase quote!