What’s The Difference Between Forced Air Vs Heat Pump HVAC?

What’s The Difference Between Forced Air Vs. Heat Pump HVAC?

What’s The Difference Between Forced Air Vs Heat Pump HVAC?Here at John Cipollone, we’re often asked what the difference is between forced air and heat pumps for your HVAC system. With our years of experience serving homeowners in the Havertown area, we’ve worked on every time of heating and cooling system you can imagine, and our goal is to make sure you have a system that is reliable and will keep your family comfortable for years to come.

When you’re comparing forced air systems versus heat pumps, you should know that both systems can heat and cool your home effectively. Systems can also be designed to heat and cool your whole home, or just select parts. Understanding the differences, including the costs, will help you make the best choice when you’re looking to replace your current system or upgrade the comfort in your home.

Forced-Air Systems

Forced-air systems use a fuel source- typically oil or natural gas in a furnace- to heat air and then distribute and circulate the air throughout your home via ductwork. In fact, this type of heating system is the most common type in the United States, according to the National Association of Home Builders. They are common throughout our area, especially in homes built after 1950 or so. (Homes built earlier often use radiators rather than forced air.)

How to Know if You Have a Forced-Air System

To determine if you have a forced-air system, first check your thermostat. If you have vents that blow warm air when the thermostat is set to “Heat,” you likely have a forced-air system. Additionally, you can verify by examining the serial number on your HVAC unit. If the serial number begins with “FA,” it’s a forced-air system.

Heat Pumps Explained

Heat pumps are a little different than conventional forced air systems, in that they run on electricity, but use the temperature of the air to extract heat in the winter to heat the inside of your home and reverse the process in the summer to cool your home. Most heat pumps are highly efficient, and this makes them both cost-effective to operate as well as being more environmentally friendly than traditional systems that rely on fossil fuels like oil or natural gas.

How Heat Pumps Work

Heat Pumps use refrigerant to absorb and transfer heat energy, allowing for heat exchange between indoor and outdoor environments. Heat pumps are known for their high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratings (SEER) and reduced energy consumption compared to traditional heating systems.

Types of Heat Pumps

Heat pumps come in three general types- air source, geothermal and water sourced heat pumps. For most homeowners, air sourced heat pumps are the most common and most cost-effective options.


Air-source heat pumps extract heat from the air and transfer it between the indoor and outdoor environments.


Geothermal heat pumps utilize the stable temperatures found beneath the Earth’s surface to heat or cool a home.


Water-source heat pumps use a body of water, like a pond or lake, as a source for heat exchange.

Mini Split

Mini-split heat pumps are ductless systems that can provide targeted heating and cooling for specific areas within a home. These are air-sourced heat pump systems.

AC Maintenance Checklist For Peak Home EfficiencyHeat Pump Vs. Forced Air: Performance

When you’re comparing heat pumps and forced air systems, you’ll want to know about how well they perform, especially when there are extreme weather conditions. Heat pumps work well but do tend to struggle when the temperature dips below -15 F degrees, which rarely happens in our area. Even conventional forced air systems struggle to keep up when extreme weather hits, so your main concern should be about your fuel source (oil, gas or electric) and the associated costs.

Ductless Heating and Cooling

Ductless heat pumps offer a versatile and efficient option for homeowners. If you own an older home that relied on radiators and doesn’t have ductwork, a ductless heat pump system can be designed to create energy-efficient zones of heating and cooling throughout your home, making your home more comfortable, but also more energy-efficient.

Forced Air Heat Pump Systems

A forced-air heat pump system combines the efficiency of a heat pump with the distribution capabilities of a forced-air system. These systems give you the benefits of a heat pump, while taking advantage of the existing ductwork in your home.

Conventional Forced Air Heat

Traditional forced-air systems rely on furnaces that burn fuel to generate heat, which is then distributed via ductwork.In the summer, you will need to rely on a compatible air conditioning system to cool your home.

Traditional Forced Air Vs. Heat Pumps: Efficiency

There are lots of options when choosing traditional forced air systems or heat pumps. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the systems are, and there are currently large tax incentives offered for upgrading your home heating and cooling system to a more energy-efficient model. In general, heat pump systems tend to be 70% more efficient in heating and 30% more efficient in cooling that traditional forced air systems, meaning you will spend less money on your energy bills to get the same amount of comfort with a higher efficiency system.


Furnaces are a popular heating choice due to their affordability, but they can be less efficient than heat pumps, especially in moderate climates.

Central Air

Central air systems are efficient for cooling but may not be as energy-efficient as heat pumps when it comes to heating.

Ducted Heat Pumps

Mini Split Installation In Broomall, PA: John Cipollone, IncDucted heat pumps combine the energy efficiency of a heat pump with the distribution capabilities of a forced-air system for optimal performance.

Ductless Heat Pump Systems

Ductless heat pump systems offer increased efficiency and flexibility in controlling your home’s temperature while minimizing energy bills and carbon emissions. They can be an excellent choice for homeowners looking to reduce their carbon footprint and save on energy costs.


Is forced air heating the same as a heat pump?

Both systems will keep your home comfortable, and both distribute warm or cooled air throughout your home. However, a heat pump is much more energy efficient, and will save you money by using less energy to keep your home comfortable each month.

Is a heat pump cheaper than forced air?

Depending on the type of heat pump you choose, heat pumps may cost a little more to install than a traditional furnace, but they tend to be less expensive to run because of their high efficiency. So your monthly energy bills will be cheaper with a heat pump, especially during the cooler months.

Why are heat pumps not used more?

Heat pumps have improved dramatically in the past decade or two, and now work efficiently until temperatures drop below -15F. With the dramatic increase in home heating oil prices and natural gas, using electric and heat pumps to heat and cool your home is becoming a better budget choice, while also giving you options to better control the heating and cooling throughout your home. Expert heat pump installation in Havertown, PA.

Call John Cipollone, Inc. at (610) 446-7877 to speak with your trusted expert heat pump installation in Havertown, PA.

About the Author

Leave a Reply 0 comments

Leave a Reply: