There are two main domestic heating systems in the US: heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces. Of course, both of these heating systems differ in the way they work. With that in mind, here are some of the main differences between heat pump and oil-fired furnace:
How Heat Pumps Work
A heat pump works in a similar way to a refrigerator. More specifically, it uses a compressor to draw warm air from outdoors and then passes it over copper tubing coils filled with refrigerant. This causes the warm air to condense into a liquid that releases heat inside a house. You can think of it as a system that transfers heat from one point to another. At this point, it is worth noting that a heat pump can draw heat from the air outdoors or from underground. Players in the home heating industry call units that rely on air to generate heat as “air-source” heat pumps. On the other hand, units that draw heat from the ground are called “geothermal” heat pumps. Another rare category consists of units called “air-to-water” heat pumps. These use heat extracted from the air to heat and distribute hot water around a home. It is important to note that heat pumps do not work well in extremely low temperatures. In addition, since most heat pumps in the US run on electricity, they contribute to higher power bills during the winter.
How Oil Fired Furnaces Work
Unlike a heat pump, an oil-fired furnace does not extract heat from the outdoor air. A typical oil-fired furnace consists of a burner/combustion chamber where oil ignites and the resulting flame heats a heat exchanger. After this, it pushes the heated air through duct systems installed inside a house. In most homes, oil fired furnaces are connected to thermostats, which control when they can turn on/off. Once the desirable indoor temperature is set, the thermostat switches on the furnace automatically when the indoor temperature falls below a certain point. One of the main advantages of an automatic system is it helps to cut heating costs. Moreover, modern oil-fired furnaces can achieve energy efficiencies as high as 98.5%, according to the US Department of Energy.
There are some key differences between heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces. In general, a heat pump condenses and extracts heat from the warm air sucked by a compressor unit located outdoors. An oil fired furnace on the other hand simply burns oil in a combustion chamber, uses resulting flame to heat air, and then distributes the heated air around a home.
Better Home Heat Council concentrates on educating consumers about the economical and efficient use of oil heat. We also help consumers address energy efficiency issues within their homes. We support local oil companies of Lehigh Valley that provide a range of services and products. Click here to search for a home heating oil supplier in your area. Many of our oil dealers provide energy consultations for their customers.