Places with moderate climates such as Middle Tennessee have more choices for home heating, included forced-air furnaces and heat pumps.
Differences between furnaces and heat pumps
Furnaces need fuel – typically natural gas, electricity or oil. A protected flame heats the air, which is pushed by a fan through ducts and floor vents throughout your home. Heat pumps use electricity but do not “heat” the air in the same way.
In fact, heat pumps take in outside air and compress it. The heat is evaporated into a gas, transferred to a coil inside the house, condensed back and distributed throughout the home. In the winter, a heat pump works like a reverse air conditioner.
Heat pumps work year-round but a furnace alone can’t cool hot summer air. Installing a furnace in Middle Tennessee requires the addition of an air conditioner for hot-weather comfort.
Winters in Greater Nashville
Although our winter climate is not extreme, heat pumps alone do not do well when air temperatures outside are below 40 F.
A mini-furnace of sorts – usually electric or gas-fired resistance coils – kicks on to heat your home. Depending on the unit, this is often called the auxiliary heat source.
Using geothermal heat pumps
Most heat pumps draw air from outside the home. Geothermal heat pumps, which are used more often in commercial HVAC systems, draw heat directly from the ground. Ground-source heat pumps use the same principles but tap into the stable temperatures of the ground to heat and cool interior spaces.
Because geothermal systems require more excavation, the installation costs are higher than for traditional HVAC systems. But owners see savings over time because ground-source heat pumps are more efficient than air-source heat pumps.
Choosing the best HVAC system
Budget, cost of electricity and/or gas in your area, lifestyle and climate are the main factors in picking the right HVAC system for your needs. The HVAC experts at Jewell Mechanical lay out your options and help you navigate them.
Furnace and heat pump maintenance tips
- Place exterior components away from doors and windows to minimize noise inside your home.
- Use a programmable thermostat to set the temperature lower at night or do so manually to cut costs.
- Clean the filters at least monthly and replace regularly.
- Keep the space around floor and wall vents and registers unobstructed.
- Check an outdoor heat pump for ice or snow buildup in bad weather. To remove ice and snow, turn the unit off and pour warm or room temperature water over it – do not use hot water. Do not use sharp objects to pry ice of the coils.
- Set an outdoor unit 4 to 8 inches off the ground – and not under a leaky gutter.
- Whether you have a furnace or a heat pump, make sure power to the unit is turned off if you are going to do anything more than change the filter.
Annual inspection and maintenance by HVAC professionals will keep your heat pump or furnace running as efficiently as possible.