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Heat Pump vs. Gas Furnace – making the right choice for your home

Are you in need of a new HVAC system, and trying to choose between an air source heat pump and a gas furnace? We’re here to explain why going with a heat pump is a no-brainer. In comparison to their gas counterparts, heat pumps are…

Learn more about each of these points in a deep dive comparison of air source heat pumps and furnaces below:

Drake meme: "when someone tells me gas furnaces are fine" vs. "when I learn what a heat pump is"

Gas furnaces vs. heat pumps: which is the right HVAC system for me?

Let’s start with the obvious – we know it can be pretty overwhelming to replace a heating and cooling system in your home. Oftentimes, it happens during a literal make-it-or-break-it moment – your house needs heating or cooling as soon as possible because your current system has broken. And, let’s be honest, it’s expensive. For the average homeowner, their HVAC system is the third largest investment they’ll make, behind their home and car. It’s important to get this right, and we’re here to help.

First, we recommend making a plan so you don’t find yourself in this stressful situation. Second, let’s dive in – why would you want to switch from a gas furnace, the system you’ve always known?

Simple: heat pumps are the best and most efficient technology you can get your hands on, they’re good for your wallet and the climate, and there are loads of incentives (we’re talking federal, state, local, and utility) that defray the upfront cost of installation…and that free money won’t be available forever. There’s no time like the present.

Heat pumps are a smart investment

The first question when replacing any large equipment in your home is probably, “how much is this going to cost me?” 

Heat Pumps Furnaces
Functionality Heating and air conditioning, gentle and evenly distributed Just heating, blasts hot air on and off
Upfront installation costs $7,500-20,000 (after incentives, see table below) $6,000-24,000 (no incentives)
Available incentives At least $2,000 tax credit, and depending on where you live, often more that are stackable.
Colorado and Massachusetts, see links for more information.
None
Operating costs Lower – on average, our customers save hundreds, and in some cases more than $1,000 per year on utility costs  Higher
Energy efficiency 300% more efficient than furnaces Less efficient
Lifespan 15-25 years 20 years

These general costs cover a wide range of numbers, mostly dependent on the size of your home and its heating and cooling needs.

All in all, thanks to the robust rebates and tax credits available to offset the costs of these systems (we’ll explain more below), in most instances, installing a heat pump today is less expensive than installing a new furnace and air conditioner/central air system, and it will help you save on operating costs in the long run, too.

Tax credits and rebates and incentives – oh my!

The great news about heat pumps is that unlike their fossil fuel-emitting counterparts (looking at you, gas furnaces), heat pumps are being adopted due to the cost benefit to the user across the board (amongst all of the other benefits listed on this blog, of course). In fact, for the past two years, heat pumps have outsold gas furnaces!

In 2022 the Inflation Reduction Act was passed in the U.S. It created a “wallet” that gets refilled every year that you, as an American homeowner, can use to offset the cost of installing climate-friendly upgrades. But, this wallet won’t refill forever. This is a sooner-rather-than-later moment for those looking to take advantage of the heat pump tax credit, which is $2,000 for qualified heat pumps. Plus, this credit has no lifetime dollar limit, meaning you can claim the maximum annual credit every year that you make other eligible energy efficiency improvements through 2033.

As for the average 1,500 square foot home (for example, we’re using the costs for a home in Denver, CO), below are the cost savings post-incentives:

Cost Explanation
$23,000 Cost of Cold Climate Heat Pump + Electrical Upgrades, before incentives
($2,200) Xcel Rebate (upfront to Elephant Energy)
($3,500)
($1,200)
Denver CARe Heat Pump Rebate (upfront to Elephant Energy)
Denver CARe Electrical Rebate (upfront to Elephant Energy)
($2,000) Federal Tax Credit from Inflation Reduction Act
($1,200) State of CO Heat Pump Discount
= $10,100 Total incentives
= $12,900 Total cost, after incentives

Beyond this federal powerhouse, many states and cities have adopted rebates and incentives for installation of heat pumps in homes. In the greater Denver area, there are multiple options to choose from (and they can be stacked with energy utility rebates, too!) For the Boston Metro, Mass Save is a fantastic program with super robust rebates for heat pumps (up to $10,000 for single family homes!). A quick internet search of your city’s name + “heat pump incentives” may find you more money back than you were expecting.

Health and safety for you and your family

A recent study found that children living in a home with a gas stove have a 42% increased risk of experiencing asthma symptoms. When it comes to your family’s health, it makes a difference to switch from a gas stove to an induction stove, a gas furnace to a heat pump, and a gas-burning water heater to a heat pump water heater.

Why? A heat pump runs solely off of electricity. This is safer than burning gas, which in turn releases fossil fuels into your home – and impacts the air you’re breathing every day. (And yes – the same goes for the gas stove and your fuel-burning cars, too.)

The best modern tech in the HVAC market

As we explained in our introduction to heat pumps blog, heat pump technology has been around for many years, but it’s improved tremendously over the past ten years. This means you’re selecting an advanced piece of equipment to join your home appliance lineup that is better for the environment, better for your wallet, and going to last you in the long run. With natural gas beginning to be phased out, you won’t want to be delayed in making the switch!

With the push made by federal, state, and local governments to make the transition to energy efficient appliances and away from fossil fuels, you can trust that you’re investing in the best tech for your home today. Plus, homes that install heat pumps see a 4-7% increase in home value. Not too shabby!

Along with the smart investment of great tech comes the promise of a better user experience when you’re choosing a heat pump over a gas furnace. Heat pumps are much quieter than a gas furnace, which blasts on any time your home is not at the set temperature on your thermostat. Then, when it reaches that temperature, the furnace kicks off. It repeats this pattern all day and all night – on, off, on, off. In contrast, the heating and cooling produced by a heat pump are much more gentle and even, because they run quietly on a low setting in the background at all times.

If you had to choose between a late 90’s desktop computer you had to lug around everywhere you went or a new laptop, you’d almost certainly choose the latter. Beyond it being kind of embarrassing to be sporting outdated tech, the ease of use, convenience, and affordability over time of a desktop pale in comparison to a modern day laptop. We trust that you get where we’re going here.

In this round of heat pump vs furnace, it’s heat pump all the way. Your future self will thank you!

Energy efficiency meets environmentally friendly

For years, we burned stuff to make heat. We burned stuff to drive cars and cook our food, too. But we’re here to tell you – you don’t need to burn stuff anymore to heat your home.

Did you know that our homes account for 20% of climate-related emissions each year? Most of that is from heating and cooling. Yikes! By electrifying your home and using clean energy (like solar), it’s possible to completely eliminate those emissions. Pretty cool, right?

What about the impact of simply installing a heat pump, though? Research shows that in all 48 continental states, replacing a gas furnace with a heat pump will reduce emissions within the very first year of installation and across the 15-year lifespan of the product. While the exact amount of emissions reduction varies by state, in many places, the reduction is up to 93% over the lifetime of the heat pump. You can read more about this research and see the specific projections for the state you live in here

Either way, the proof is in the pudding — if you care about reducing your footprint, installing a heat pump is the way to go.

Heat pumps: the clear winner when it comes to choosing HVAC for your home

Going for a heat pump over a furnace? Smart move. You’re getting cutting-edge tech that saves you money in the long run, thanks to incentives and lower energy bills. Plus, it’s a win for comfort and health at home – steadier temps and cleaner air. It’s a solid choice all around.

If you’re wanting to embrace climate action on a personal level, heat pumps are also a great option for that. Check out this personal climate calculator to see how much your heating and cooling makes a difference in your home.


Ready to get started? Join us in building a brighter future by electrifying everything, starting with homes. Your choice today shapes our collective tomorrow!

Federal Heat Pump Tax Credit – Understanding the 2023 Heat Pump Tax Credit

Is there a federal tax deduction for heat pumps? Yes! The 25C tax credit, under the Inflation Reduction Act, offers substantial benefits for individuals investing in heat pump systems, heat pump water heaters, electrical panel upgrades, select weatherization measures, and energy audits – including you, our customers! How do you qualify for the Inflation Reduction Act heat pump tax credit? Simply install and file the following year to receive the federal tax credit for your heat pump.

Notably:

  • Value: Enjoy a 30% heat pump federal tax credit on the total purchase of any combination of air source heat pumps and heat pump water heaters, capped at $2,000, other upgrades capped at $1,200 and electrical panel upgrades installed in conjunction with a heat pump or heat pump water heater will be eligible for a tax credit of up to $600. These federal tax credits for heat pumps are definitely worth it!
  • Installation Deadline: To claim the federal heat pump tax credit in a given tax year, you must have installed your heat pump with a SEER2 rating greater than or equal to 16 during that year (no need to search “what SEER rating do I need for tax credit qualification?”). To claim the federal tax credit for heat pumps or heat pump water heaters for the 2023 tax year, ensure your heat pump HVAC system or heat pump water heater installation was completed before December 31, 2023.
    • The credit limit is applicable on an annual basis, resetting each year, allowing for its reuse annually.
  • Property Requirements: Equipment must be installed in an existing home and your principal residence (the place you occupy most of the time). New construction and rentals do not apply for federal tax credits for heat pump installations, including federal tax credits for heat pump water heaters, too. The principal residence must be in the United States and may be a house, houseboat, mobile home, cooperative apartment, condominium, or a manufactured home to qualify.
  • Example: For instance, if your federal tax liability amounts to $3,000 and you qualify for the maximum $2,000 credit, your owed taxes decrease to $1,000 after applying the credit.
    25c Heat Pump Tax Credit

Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency investments qualify for the Energy Efficiency tax credit.

  • This credit is 30% of the project cost up to a maximum of credit value of $1,200
  • Upgrades that qualify:
    • Attic Insulation
    • Basement / crawlspace insulation

Home Energy Audits

A home energy audit for your main home may qualify for a tax credit of up to $150. In order to qualify, the home energy audit must:

  • Include a written report and inspection that identifies the most significant and cost-effective energy efficiency improvements with respect to the home, including an estimate of the energy and cost savings with respect to such improvement.
  • Be conducted and prepared by a home energy auditor

Disclaimer: While we provide guidance, it’s crucial to seek advice from a tax professional regarding individual tax situations. Our presentation doesn’t assume liability for your specific tax circumstances.

How to Claim / File for the Heat Pump Tax Credit:

  • IRS Form 5695: Complete this form (specifically Part Two: Energy Efficient Home Improvement Credit) to outline your eligibility for the heat pump tax credit.
  • Fill out your Name, Social Security Number, and your main home’s address. 
    1. PART I: ​​Residential Clean Energy Credit
      Form 5695 Residential Energy Tax Credits
    2. PART II: Energy Efficient Home Improvement Credit
      1. Continue filling out lines 17 through 32.
      2. In Section A Line 18, enter the total invoice amount for insulation and air sealing. 
      3. In Section B Line 25ab, enter the total invoice amount for electrical panel upgrades. 
      4. In Section B Line 29abc, enter the total invoice amount for heat pumps and/or heat pump water heaters.
        Section A - Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements
        Section B - Residential Energy Property Expenditures
    1. Integration with Form 1040: Add the relevant tax credit details to your standard Form 1040 during the tax filing process.
    2. Submission: Ensure Form 5695 is included when filing your taxes to claim the credit accurately.

    MORE DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS ON FILLING OUT THE FORM HERE.
    MORE INFO HERE.

    And once again, thank you for being a part of the Elephant Energy Herd!! We couldn’t be where we are without wonderful customers like yourselves. And in return, we’re here for you – before, during, and after your Climate-Friendly Home Upgrade.