Knowing the type of HVAC system you have is crucial, regardless of whether you own or rent a house. One common query we receive is, “Does my house have a heat pump?” To assist you in determining the answer to this issue, let’s examine the various kinds of residential heating systems that you may possess and how to identify them.

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What is a Heat Pump?

With the exception of having the ability to operate in both heating and cooling modes, a heat pump is a particular kind of heating equipment that resembles an air conditioner. The heat pump removes heat from the interior air of your house and releases it outside when it’s cooling. The heat pump performs the exact opposite while it’s heating; it draws heat from the outside and transfers it into the air within your house.

Similar to air conditioners and refrigerators, heat pumps run on electricity. Since a heat pump produces heat without burning fuel, it doesn’t need any additional energy to operate. Rather, it merely involves transferring heat between locations.

Heat pumps perform less effectively when the outside temperature falls below freezing because they depend on the outside air for warmth. As a result, the majority of heat pump systems include heat strips for backup heating in case of emergency.

You may be able to manually switch on these electrical heat strips or have them activated by your thermostat. When your emergency backup heat is operating, your thermostat will typically display a message such as “Emergency Heat” or “Auxiliary Heat.”

Similar to air conditioning units, heat pumps can be packaged or split systems. A split heat pump consists of two units: an exterior unit and an interior unit. A packaged heat pump is housed outside of your home in a sizable metal box.

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Other Types of Heating Systems

A heat pump or a furnace is found in the majority of residential residences in the Tennessee Valley that have central air conditioning. Homeowners may use boilers or other alternative forms of heating systems in the nation’s coldest regions.

A boiler is a type of heater that boils water and generates steam by burning fuel, such as natural gas, propane, or oil. The house is then heated by passing this steam through radiant baseboard heaters or radiators. It’s likely that if you reside in the South, your house lacks a boiler. Usually, we’re not attempting to raise the humidity level here!

But in the South, furnaces are a common kind of heating. Fuel is burned in a furnace to heat the air that circulates around your house. Although there are various fuel options for furnaces, natural gas is the most widely used fuel in our region.

Air conditioners and furnaces can be installed independently or combined into a single unit. Furnaces packaged units are placed completely outside of your house, whereas split air conditioning systems paired with furnaces have an interior unit.

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How Do You Tell Whether You Have a Furnace or a Heat Pump?

You are aware of central heating in your house. You are aware that hot air exits your home’s vents when the heat is turned on. However, how can you determine if the hot air is emanating from a heat pump or a furnace?

Initially, examine if your HVAC unit has a label on the outside. Even the oldest units typically have a label on them that lists the model number and typically describes the kind of device it is.

You’ll need to conduct some research if the label doesn’t reveal the answer. Does natural gas power your heater? Heat pumps only use electricity, therefore if your heating system has a gas line connected to it, you have a furnace.

Check your energy statement to see if you can determine if there is a gas line. Do you have to pay for the natural gas you use? Is your wintertime natural gas consumption noticeably higher than your summertime usage? Then your furnace is most likely gas.

Make sure you have a functional carbon monoxide detector installed in your home if you have a gas furnace or any other natural gas-powered appliance, like a stove or water heater.

Check your thermostat to find out what kind of heater you have if you’re still unsure. Is there an emergency or auxiliary heat setting? Have you ever noticed the “Aux Heat” alert appear? You have a heat pump if you have backup or emergency heat. Furnaces function perfectly well below freezing, therefore they don’t require additional heat.

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If possible, schedule an inspection and tune-up for your heating system early in the fall, before you need to turn it on for the first time. Regular maintenance is essential to maintaining the dependability, effectiveness, and safety of your heating system, regardless of whether it is a furnace or a heat pump.