Are Heat Pumps Better? To Find Out, Contractor Tests One In His Own Home
Cody Novini, CEO, SoCal Airflow Pros
Published: October 31, 2022
Cody Novini is so dedicated to providing the best experience to his customers that he once carried out a two-year experiment in his own home to see whether gas furnaces or heat pumps perform better.
“I installed both types in my home and ran the gas furnace one winter, the heat pump the next,” the CEO of Switch Is On-approved HVAC installer SoCal Airflow explained. “Although the furnace was 96% efficient — 16% more than most furnaces — the heat pump outperformed it in every way. Not only was my family much more comfortable that winter, but we also saved more on our heating bills.”
The results of this experiment, in addition to further research, convinced Cody of heat pumps’ superior performance. Since then, a multitude of happy heat pump customers cemented his belief that heat pumps are the best replacement for gas furnaces in Southern California and similar climates.
With Heat Pumps, Comfort Comes First
“When you’re buying HVAC, you’re really buying comfort in your own home,” says Cody. “So our goal is to give the customer the most comfortable home we can, with the highest quality materials, while also ensuring a price that fits in their budget.
“Heat pumps are a game-changer for many of our customers because they hadn’t previously experienced HVAC tailored for their own home. Many homes actually have oversized gas furnaces and A/C units to ensure adequate heating and cooling, but those huge blasts of hot and cold air aren’t really comfortable to live in.
“On the other hand, each heat pump system is designed for optimal airflow in that particular home. So it keeps the home at the right temperature without overdoing it. Even customers worried about whether their heat pump would keep their home warm enough, ended up more comfortable during winter than before.”
Cody said that while installation costs are roughly the same for gas furnaces and heat pumps, ongoing costs are lower for heat pumps. Due to their high efficiency and use of electricity instead of gas, it’s common to save on energy bills as he did.
Moreover, heat pumps can both heat and cool effectively. This enables homeowners to avoid the cost of dual furnace and A/C systems by replacing both with a single appliance, as Switch Is On ambassador Wei-Tei Kwok did.
Many areas in California offer rebates and incentives for heat pump customers as well.
Fighting Climate Change
Heat pumps go beyond indoor climate control; they’re one of the most powerful ways homeowners can fight climate change.
Not only do heat pumps use 3-4 times less energy than gas furnaces, but the energy comes straight from the electric grid instead of from gas lines. As more renewables are added to the grid (for example, California’s grid is run on 59% clean energy), the more environmentally friendly heat pumps become.
“California has steadily increased requirements for reporting and regulating heater emissions,” adds Cody. “Many local building codes are also mandating all-electric new construction. Part of the reason we began installing heat pumps is that we realized the industry’s future is in lower-carbon, more environmentally friendly ways of heating.”
Heat pumps certainly fit the bill: installing one in place of a furnace will often reduce that house’s heating emissions by over 45 percent.
The Future of Keeping Cool – and Warm
When Cody started installing heat pumps, his team’s proposals were often the only non-furnace solutions homeowners saw.
“They’d look at our lone heat pump proposal, the only one in 5-8 proposals, and hesitate just because it was the ‘different’ option,” says Cody. “We spent a lot of time with homeowners educating them on the basics, like what heat pumps are and how they work.
“That first winter, I had my concerns. Fortunately, heat pumps did everything the manufacturers claimed they would. 99.9 percent of my heat pump customers have been very happy with their install.
“But as awareness has grown, so has demand. Many people call us specifically asking for heat pump installations now, which form over 99 percent of our business – up from 10 percent when we started. As a result, we grew 50 percent just last year. Our investment and risks as the first all heat pump installation company in our area have definitely paid off.”
Cody encourages both customers and other contractors to consider heat pump installations.
“Good contractors have the same concern as the customer: how can this install give the most comfortable home possible, at the most affordable price?” he says. “We learned that in hot and moderate climates, nothing comes close to the comfort a heat pump can provide when installed correctly.”
Interested in Heat Pumps?
Learn more about heat pumps, find approved contractors (including Cody Novini’s SoCal Airflow Pros), and get in touch with home electrification experts at Switch is On.org.