Heat Pumps vs Gas Furnace

Heat Pumps vs Gas Furnace

As an expert in the HVAC field, people ask me which is better:  heat pumps vs gas furnace?  

This is a question for the ages.  Predominantly, here in the Sacramento Valley, most people have gas furnaces.  This means they have a gas line plumbed from their meter on the side of the house that goes all the way up to the furnace in the attic, or closet or, or garage.  A smaller percentage of people in the Sacramento valley have all-electric heat pumps.  This just means electricity fuels all their heating needs.

So which is better? Let’s Explore Heat Pumps vs Gas Furnace

Well, if you put the two together and feel the heat coming out of the registers on an all-electric heat pump, and then feel the heat coming out of the registers of a gas-fueled furnace, you’ll feel the gas furnace has warmer air coming out of it.  This alone is the major reason people choose gas furnaces over electric heat pumps.  

Let’s assume the air in your house is 65 degrees.  The air coming into the system is 65 degrees.  A gas furnace will heat that air by about 30 to 60 degrees.  I find that temperature difference to be more in the area of 45 to 55 degrees most of the time.   This means you will have anywhere from 95 to 125-degree air coming out of your registers.  In the winter, gas furnaces feel very nice for this reason.  Your house will warm up quickly with warm air like that coming out.

An all-electric heat pump will typically take your 65-degree air and warm it up about 20 degrees.  This will warm up your house, but it will take longer.  A heat pump uses your outdoor condenser too, which is way more expensive to operate than a gas-fueled furnace.  You know how expensive it is to run your AC in the summer right?  Well, it will be equally as expensive, if not more, to run your heat pump in the winter.  You see, the heat pump alone can only heat your house until it’s about 45 degrees outdoor temperature.  When it gets colder than that, there is almost no heat in the outdoor air to convert into heat for your house, so the dreaded “heat strips” will turn on.  The heat strips will dramatically increase your 20-degree difference to 35 to 60 degrees but will take just as much electricity to run as it does the outdoor unit.  This means you will be using summer weather electricity to run the outdoor unit and equally as much electricity to operate those heat strips.  You will warm up, it’s just doubly expensive to operate the heat pump and your heat strips in the winter.

Here in Sacramento County gas furnace are much less expensive to operate.  

If you don’t have natural gas or propane run to your house, then you have no choice, you’ll have to get a heat pump.  But, if you do have gas to your house, I think it’s much wiser to switch to a gas-fueled furnace.  You’ll get warmer air out of it, which feels great in the cold December and January months.  

Feel free to call me anytime to discuss our questions on getting a heat pump or gas furnace for your next furnace replacement.  Our phone number is 916-877-1577 or you can email us.  

The HVAC Industry Continues to Experience the Effects of COVID-19

HVAC and covid 19 Featured image

HVAC Supply Pricing Continuing To Rise

Folks who purchased their new AC system at the beginning of the year should be singing their praises.  The industry continues to see rising costs of materials combined with a shortage of workers.  

A colleague of mine said, “When something like COVID interrupts any part of the supply chain system, including how those parts get shipped from there to here. We’re experiencing a weird dynamic right now with worldwide stress, but also with a high demand for our products and services. Also, considering the low numbers of employees working in these factories, the only thing to expect is chaos. The scenario is creating an almost panic for our industry to perform.”

Halfway through the summer of 2021, things haven’t gotten any better.  We continue to be frustrated.  Selling equipment is tough enough, but to get the okay from a customer and potentially not have their equipment is challenging.  It’s the toughest thing I’ve had to deal with since becoming a contractor in 2015.

What happens is, when we order our equipment online in the past, we could see the inventory levels of our distributor.  We would look up a particular furnace that matches up with a condenser and evaporator coil and see that they had 20 of those furnaces.  Now when we win a job, we have to submit the order and wait for the distributor to get back to us and let us know if they have the equipment to fill that order.  If they don’t, we have to call the customer back and let them know.

On a few occasions this year, we have had to offer the customer an entirely different brand than Trane, which has always been our equipment of choice.  This has worked out for those customers, and we appreciate them being flexible enough to understand.  

Every HVAC contractor in the United States is dealing with this equipment situation.  Manufacturers say they can’t get equipment out fast enough for the rising demand for new equipment.  This has created the highest rate of price increase we’ve seen in a very long time.  Each year, we typically see a 4% to 6% increase in the cost of equipment.  

attic furnace unit

This year we’ve already seen a 21% increase in that same equipment. This has resulted in your basic $10,000 HVAC system increasing by $2,000 in just one year.  Higher-end equipment has grown exponentially.

With a few to several more months of rapid inflation in the world’s economy, we continue to brace for whatever price increases we may see. These price increases ultimately get passed along to our customers. 

So, like we said this time last year, as we’re getting close to the end of the hottest time of the year, local suppliers should have an easier time restocking their shelves as demand goes down.  Winter months are relatively mild around the Sacramento Valley, so that we won’t get that high intensity of equipment change-outs experienced in other areas of the world with longer, colder winters.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed America get’s back to normal soon.  People need heating and air conditioning. It’s not a luxury for some people.  With continued demand and lower inventory of equipment and the parts that make that equipment up, inflation continues, stressing this contractor out.  

Stay safe and follow CDC guidelines so we can get through this sooner than later. Thanks so much for stopping by, and we’ll see you next time.

Air Source Heat Pump Basics

Air Source Heat Pump Basics

Heat pumps and air conditioners are very similar. I want to share my experience with heat pumps and how they operate to give you cooling in the summer and heating in the winter.

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Heat Pump Water Heater Rebate Reduction from SMUD Puts Pressure on Customers

SMUD’s rebate structure is one of the most generous ones around, especially compared to those available from PG&E.  But those rewards for going green won’t be around forever. 

SMUD’s Rebate Program Manager, Michael Corbett, in coordination with Efficiency First California, has developed a fantastic way to take care of emergency appliance replacements individually while still qualifying for the rebates.  The replacements include water heaters, HVAC systems, ductwork, insulation, and making your home “electric ready.”  In the past, the $13,000 total in rebates required replacement of all these items at once.  You’re now able to take care of these one at a time.

Rebates Won’t Be Around Forever

As the timeline shortens for mandatory building code changes in new homes, utility companies won’t have to provide these great rebates.  The heat pump water heater rebate reduction is an example of that.  SMUD encourages participating contractors like Fox Family Heating and Air to let folks know these rebates won’t be around forever.  They should take advantage of them before funds run out.

Everyone involved in SMUD’s new rebate structure has seen success.  In fact, in just two years, the volume of heat pump water heater installations through SMUD’s program has increased by 1,000%.  It’s been so successful, the funds to support these incentives are running out! 

SMUD Rebate Reductions

Starting April 1, 2020, the rebate for changing your gas water heater to a heat pump all-electric water heater drops by $500.  The $3,000 rebate will now be $2,500.  The $1,000 rebate for upgrading your electric water heater to a heat pump style water heater will now be $500.

Applications must be submitted and approved by March 31st, 2020 to receive the previous $3,000 or $1,000 SMUD rebate.  The utility company processes rebates on a first-come, first-served basis. Your project must meet the efficiency standards of the program as well as other terms and conditions. These include using a participating SMUD contractor and pulling a permit with the city or county.

For questions regarding the program, please email [email protected] or call 916-209-5117. For questions about your project or to schedule an installation, contact Fox Family — we’re ready to help!