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Furnace and heat pump energy use

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Comparative Energy Use of Residential Furnaces and Heat Pumps - ACEEE Research Report A1602



This report, released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), explores natural gas use in residential space-heating and water-heating applications. The analysis looks primarily at the relative energy use for different regions and types of heating systems, but also includes a simplified economic analysis looking at the same regions and system types.


According to the findings:


  • In warm states, electric heat pumps generally use less energy and have moderately positive economics if a heat pump can replace both the furnace and a central air conditioner;
  • Moderately cold states can save energy if electricity comes from the highest-efficiency power plants, but from an economic point of view, life cycle costs for gas furnaces in existing homes will be lower than for heat pumps;
  • In cold states further development of cold-temperature electric heat pumps and gas-fired heat pumps will be useful;
  • Heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) can save more energy than non-condensing and condensing gas water heaters if power comes from efficient natural gas combined-cycle power plants or renewable-power plants;
  • HPWHs and new gas water heaters have similar life cycle costs.


Please visit the ACEEE website to download the report.