Heat pump vs. electric furnace: Which is better for Kansas City homes?

Stuck choosing between a heat pump or an electric furnace?

For homes in the Kansas City metro area that only have access to electricity, not gas, we generally recommend going with a heat pump over an electric furnace.

Here’s why:

Heat pumps beat electric furnaces on monthly heating cost

Heat pumps have a cheaper monthly heating cost than electric furnaces.

Heat pumps transfer heat from outdoor air, so they use less energy (up to 50% less electricity) than electric furnaces, which heat air directly. So you’ll save more money on your monthly utility bill with a heat pump, especially when temperatures are above 40 F°.

Even when temperatures are below 40 F°, and your heat pump has to rely on backup electrical resistance heating to help warm your home, it’s still better than an electric furnace. Heat pumps can still extract heat from cold air, meaning it it doesn’t have to run 100% on electrical resistance heating.

In summary, since Kansas City weather averages out to 53°, you’ll experience the best monthly energy savings with a heat pump.

However, electric furnaces are better than heat pumps in one way…

Electric furnaces win on consistently high heat

An electric furnace provides more consistent comfort than a heat pump.

You see electric furnaces can supply heat to your home at about 120 F°—regardless of the outside temperature.

On the other hand, a heat pump will generally only supply heat at about 90–95° when the outside temperature is above 40°. However, when the temperature is below 40°, it will supply 120 F° heat the same as an electric furnace because it uses electric resistance coils for support.

This difference in heat temperature generally isn’t a problem, but when outside temperatures are consistently in the 50 F° range, a heat pump’s air may feel lukewarm because your body temperature is around 98 F°.

Of course, comfort is subjective, so it really depends on the person.

But if having 120 F° heat delivered to your home at all times is your #1 priority, then an electric (or gas, if you have gas lines) furnace may be right for you. However, given the monthly heating cost savings you’ll get with a heat pump, we still recommend going that route.

Before getting just a heat pump, consider a dual (hybrid) heating system

If you has access to gas and want to have the the highest monthly energy savings possible, consider a dual fuel system.

A dual fuel (hybrid heat) system consists of a heat pump AND a gas furnace. When the outside temperature drops below 40 F° and your heat pumps starts to lose efficiency, your gas furnace kicks on—instead of an electric resistance heater—to provide heat.

Gas as a fuel source is generally less expensive than electricity, so this will save you money during those cold winter days.

Note: If you don’t have gas lines already installed, stick with a heat pump.

Need a system installed by a Kansas City tech?

Contact Santa Fe Air for a free install estimate or heating recommendations. We’ve been keeping homes warm in the Kansas City metro area since 1987.