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HVAC Education, Buying Tips, Furnaces, Heat Pumps, Technology

Furnace vs. Heat Pump: What’s the Difference?

While furnaces and heat pumps both warm up indoor air, they differ in heating capabilities, energy efficiency, maintenance requirements, use of space, and cost.


Heat Pump v. Furnace


To generate heat, furnaces burn oil or gas, while heat pumps run on electricity, drawing heat from outside air—even cold air—and transferring it indoors. Because of how they work, heat pumps produce less heat than furnaces and work best in warmer climates (zones 1-3 on the U.S. Department of Energy climate zone map).

Map source:

Heat pumps are more versatile in creating indoor comfort—they provide heat in winter and can also act as air conditioners in summer. This means people in warmer climates can heat and cool their home using just a heat pump. On the other hand, furnaces only provide heat, so a separate air conditioning unit is required to cool your home in warmer months. While both products have different purposes, some climates allow for a furnace to be installed with a heat pump, known as a dual fuel system Heating and Cooling - Dual fuel heating system, which can offer greater savings. With two heat sources, the system will gauge the outdoor temperature to determine the most efficient option to heat your home.

Energy Efficiency

Modern furnaces are more energy efficient than they used to be, but still don’t compare to the efficiencies of electric heat pumps.


Both heat pumps and furnaces require preventative maintenance. Your Carrier expert can recommend the proper service schedule based on your unique system.


Furnaces typically require at least 30 inches of clearance on all sides and are installed indoors. A heat pump requires only 24 inches of clearance and is installed outdoors.

Why choose a furnace?

  • You have natural gas lines near your home
  • You live in a cold climate
  • Natural gas costs are more affordable than electricity

Why choose a heat pump?

  • You live in a moderate or warm climate
  • Your home is not near natural gas lines
  • You need air conditioning as well as heating
  • Energy efficiency is very important to you
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How can we help you?

If you prefer to speak to someone in person, call 1-800-Carrier (1-800-227-7437) .


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