When it’s time to replace the heating portion of your home’s central HVAC system, you’ll want the most efficient heating system within your budget. Comparing your options is much easier when you know the efficiency terminology used for different types of heating systems and what they mean:

  • Annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) is the rating given to gas and electric furnaces. It represents the amount of heat a furnace produces in comparison to the amount of energy it consumes on an annual basis.
  • Heating season performance factor (HSPF) tells you the cold weather efficiency of an air-source heat pump. It measures the total heating required divided by the total energy consumed during the heating season.
  • Coefficient of performance (COP) is used to measure geothermal heat pump efficiency. It represents the ratio of the unit’s heat output to the amount of energy used at a specific time, so it’s a snapshot of the system’s heating efficiency.

Efficient Heating System Choices

The most efficient options available to replace the heating component in a central HVAC system are gas or electric furnaces, or air-to-air or geothermal heat pumps that have both heating and cooling capabilities:

  • Gas or electric furnaces — Gas furnaces always lose some heat energy up the flue, so their efficiency ratings range from 78 percent AFUE for basic models to 97 percent for high-efficiency units. Furnaces that use electric elements or coils to create heat can achieve 100 percent AFUE, since all the energy used is converted into heat.
  • Air-source heat pumps While this type of heat pump runs on electricity, it simply draws warmth from the air outdoors and move it indoors. They range in efficiency from 6.8 up to 10 HSPF, and they’re approximately 30 to 40 percent more efficient than a gas furnace.
  • Geothermal heat pumps — These systems draw stored warmth from the ground through a loop of liquid-filled pipes. The only energy they consume is the electricity used to run the system’s fan, so they’re extremely efficient with COPs ranging from 3 to 4.7. Compared to a gas furnace that’s 78-97 percent efficient, geothermal heat pumps can be 300 to almost 500 percent efficient.

If you need expert help choosing the most efficient heating system for your northwest Arkansas home, contact Paschal Heat, Air & Geothermal.

Our goal is to help homeowners in the Springdale area learn more about HVAC-specific issues that affect their comfort and energy consumption.