Heat Pump or Furnace... which system is heating your Raleigh home?Your Raleigh home probably has either a Heat Pump or a Furnace but many homeowners aren’t exactly sure which one they have.  Both systems heat your home, but they do so in different ways. Here are some ways they are different and ways to identify your type of HVAC system.

Here’s How a Gas Furnace Operates

A furnace has 3 main sections that work together to heat your home. The first part of a furnace has a burner, heat exchanger and inducer motor. The second part is made up of safety controls and devices. The third part is the blower motor. A furnace creates heat by burning natural gas. Newer models use a hot surface igniter while older models use a pilot light. Once the thermostat lets the furnace know it needs to raise the temperature, the burner combines the gas and air to make a flame. Then the mixture begins to rise through the heat exchanger and then the blower motor moves the hot air throughout your Raleigh home. When gas is burned it makes toxic fumes, and the inducer motor pushes those fumes out of a vent outside your home. A furnace also uses a filter, so make sure to change that regularly so your furnace can heat your home properly.

Here’s How a Heat Pump Operates

A heat pump unlike a furnace does not use gas to heat your Raleigh home. A heat pump moves warm air from one place to another using electricity. The main parts of a heat pump are a compressor, control board, evaporator and condenser coil, refrigerant, valves, blower motor and heat strips. A heat pump uses freon to capture heat from the air or ground outside (yes, even when its cold) and circulates it throughout your Raleigh home. The compressor then pumps the refrigerant across the coils. A fan blows heat all through your home. Since there is moisture in the air, sometimes your heat pump will get ice on it. A defrost control board will melt the ice so your heat pump can work properly.

How do you know if you have a Heat Pump or Furnace?

Some Raleigh customers call us for emergency heating repair, yet they don’t know if they have a heat pump or a furnace. One easy way to tell is if you have a gas bill or not. If you have a gas bill, then you most likely have a furnace since a furnace needs gas to operate. You can also check your thermostat, if there is an emergency heat setting then you probably have a heat pump. A furnace is usually found in a closet, attic, basement, or crawlspace. A heat pump is usually split between an outside and inside unit.

There are many differences between a heat pump and a furnace. Now that you know the differences, you should be able to identify if your Raleigh home has a furnace or heat pump. If you still have questions, check out this chart below or call Cool Change Heating and Air at 919-457-2494, and we can help you out with all your heating repair and maintenance needs whether you live in Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest or anywhere else in the greater Triangle area! …Our slogan may say that we have the coolest clients in town, but we like to keep you warm too!!!

Differences in Heat Pumps and Furnaces

Heat Pump


Uses Electricity

Uses Gas

Transfers Heat

Burns Fuel

Same system as Air Conditioner

Separate System

Uses refrigerant

Doesn’t use refrigerant

Energy Efficient

Uses more energy

Costs more to Operate

Cheaper to Operate

Best for Milder Climates

Works in any Climate

No Toxic Fumes

Outputs Carbon Monoxide

Need Repairs Sooner

Lasts Longer

Cost more to Install

Cheaper to Install