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The Future of Heating Homes

House-shaped radiator

Photo: Getty Images



When it comes to the total installation cost of either a heat pump or a furnace, a handful of factors come into play, such as system size, efficiency levels, and labor costs. 

Typically, installing a furnace or air conditioning system is more expensive than installing a heat pump. And if you need to install a new gas line to accommodate a furnace, the installation cost can be even higher (an increase of anywhere from $300 to $1,000). 

Heat pumps use electricity to move cold air out and warm air in, while the majority of furnaces require the use of natural gas to keep your home comfortable during cold California winters. Generally, gas is cheaper than electricity in Southern California, therefore a gas powered furnace typically costs less to operate than a heat pump which is powered by electricity.

The more energy-efficient your HVAC system is, the less electricity and gas it will use. In turn, you can end up paying less on your utility bill for a more energy-efficient HVAC system. Which leads us to our next factor...

Warming efficiency of a residence and calculate heating costs concept with digital calculator, small house wrapped in warm wool neck scarf on wood background

Photo: Getty Images


To calculate the “operational costs” of each system, you’ll need to consider how much money you will most likely spend operating the system over a period of time. 

If you’re using a furnace, keeping the cost of fuel in mind is important. Since fuel costs can fluctuate, your heating bill can fluctuate along with them. 

However, not using fossil fuel doesn’t always mean lower bills. In fact, during especially cold winters, heat pumps might require so much electricity that your utility bill would actually be higher than if you were using a gas furnace.


Typically, furnaces last longer than heat pumps. On average, furnaces last between 15 to 20 years, while heat pumps last 10 to 15 years.

Furnaces tend to last longer because they only work during the fall or winter (or whenever the temperature drops), while a heat pump works year-round. (Remember: a heat pump both cools and heats your home.)

Keep in mind: Both systems will need annual maintenance from an HVAC tech to keep them running smoothly so they can last as long as possible. 


If you’re interested in the efficiency of a heat pump along with the comfort of a furnace, a dual-fuel system could be your solution. A dual-fuel system is normally considered when the home has a solar panel system installed.

A dual-fuel system is the combination of a gas furnace with a heat pump. 

How do dual-fuel systems work?

As long as the temperature outside remains above 35°F or so, a heat pump can pull heat from outside. The furnace will only kick on in the coldest months. Dual-fuel systems can provide the best energy efficiency when paired with a solar panel system

Since a gas furnace is more energy-efficient than electric resistance heating (which is what a heat pump uses on super cold days to warm your home), you’ll save money during the entire winter season. Plus, you’ll get the preferred comfort of a furnace when it’s needed most.


  • Nationally- Heating and cooling use approx 31% of electricity cost
  • Insulation - the concept of “you don’t need it in So Cal” is no longer viable.
  • Insulation allows charging a house at night when time of use energycosts are lowest

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