Q: Do you need a furnace with a heat pump?

A: Most people don't need a backup heating system. Here's why.

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Usually, you don't need a backup heating system with a cold climate heat pump.

We get this question all the time at Sealed.

And you’ll likely be relieved to hear that cold climate heat pump technology has come a long way in recent years. Some models can steadily heat homes in weather reaching -22 degrees (1).

That means, when you make the switch from furnace to heat pump and say goodbye to fossil-fuel heating, you can rest assured your house will be cozy-warm all winter—and you’ll be cutting energy waste at the same time.

An expert can help you discover the right heat pump solution for your home.

For most homeowners, a heat pump is superior to furnace home heating for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s more energy efficient
  2. It’s safer (no risks of gas leaks or carbon monoxide), and
  3. Heat pumps warm your space more evenly than a furnace would

But don’t just take our word for it:

  • 81% say their home comfort has improved by replacing their fossil fuel heaters with heat pumps (2).
  • In 80% of the homes studied in one report, electric heat pumps saved money over the life of the system compared to homes with gas furnaces (3).
  • You’ll have better home air quality because heat pumps run on electricity: Gas furnaces burn more natural gas than stoves, which means they also leak more pollutants if not properly maintained or ventilated (4).
  • Heat pumps are up to 3x more efficient than conventional heating systems and can reduce up to 50% of your energy use for heating (56).
  • Heat pumps are the future. In 2022, heat pumps outsold furnaces for the first time in the U.S. (7).

However, if you prefer the “close” feel of furnace or wood heat—or if you live in an area with sustained temperatures under -15 degrees—be aware that you might need to supplement your heat pump with an additional heating unit (which can usually be built into the system).

On the other hand, if you have an older heat pump or a model that isn’t rated for the winter weather in your area, you’ll need an upgrade—or you will likely need a backup heating system.

But hands down (we’ll say it once, and then we’ll say it again!): Heat pumps are the most efficient, safest way to heat your home.

If you decide to keep a backup heating system after converting to a heat pump, think of it as a secondary heating source. Your reliable high-performance cold climate heat pump should always be the primary.

Also, don’t forget that a heat pump is also an air conditioner—there’s no furnace on the market that can cool your home as well as heat it.

Q: I have a heat pump that struggles in colder climates. What do I do?

A: Heat pumps that struggle in winter can give powerful cold climate models a bad rap. If you’re heat pump is having a hard time keeping up, read our guide to heat pumps not working in cold weather to troubleshoot.

If you have a cold climate heat pump and your house isn’t staying warm, many times this is due to improper heat pump installation or a poorly insulated house.

Find out how long insulation lasts and signs it’s time for an upgrade to learn more.

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