heat pump vs furnace alberta

Making an educated decision in the heat pump vs. furnace debate —especially in Alberta—requires knowledge of the subtle differences between the two heating technologies. This article explains the advantages and disadvantages of both systems so Albertans can choose the one that best matches their heating requirements.

Understanding Heat Pumps and Furnaces

It’s critical to fully understand the advantages and differences between two common heating systems when thinking about heating your house, especially in Alberta. These systems are heat pumps and furnaces. Every system functions differently and has pros and disadvantages of its own, especially in view of Alberta’s severe winters.

How do Heat Pumps work?

Heat Pump is a flexible and energy-efficient choice for both heating and cooling your house. Rather than producing heat by combustion, they work by transfer. Over the winter, a heat pump – whether it is an air source, ground source, or a cold climate heat pump, uses a compressor and refrigerant for intensifying and transferring warm indoor air from the still outside air, even at a low outdoor temperature. Reversing this procedure in the summer, the heat pump systems act like air conditioners and cool the house by releasing heat extracted from within to the outdoor air.

Benefits of Heat Pumps

Since electric heat pumps move heat rather than burning fuel to produce it, they are renowned for their high efficiency. They can provide a house three times as much heat energy and hot air—one and a half times as much as they need in electricity.

Heat pumps greatly lower greenhouse gas emissions by using electricity (which can be obtained from renewable energy) and eliminating the direct burning of fossil fuels.

Heat pumps are a sensible all-in-one system for year-round climate control in houses because they can be used for both heating mode and cooling mode.

  • Since it takes more energy to extract heat from very cold air, heat pumps typically lose efficiency during the bitterly cold Alberta winters.

  • While versions made especially for colder climates can increase heat pump performance, they can be more costly and may still require additional heating sources during the worst of winter.

How do Furnaces work?

Particularly in colder parts like Alberta, furnaces are the most often used heating system in Canadian houses. Their combustion of natural gas, oil, propane, or the use of electricity produces heat, which is subsequently circulated as warm air via ducts throughout the house.

Benefits of Furnaces

Regardless of the outside temperature, furnaces may generate a lot of heat that can boost a house’s temperature fast.

In areas where natural gas is inexpensive and plentiful, a natural gas furnace frequently offers lower running costs even though the initial installation cost can be considerable. Where they’re not, an electric furnace can prove to be a great option, providing up to 100% energy efficiency.

Specially made for colder climates, furnaces can run efficiently even at very low temperatures, offering dependable and steady heating for cool homes.


Generally speaking, fossil fuel-burning furnaces emit more greenhouse gases than electrically driven ones. But the high-efficiency vehicles on the market now are made to consume fuel more efficiently and produce less pollution.

Regular maintenance of your existing furnace is necessary to guarantee effective operation and avoid problems like carbon monoxide leaks. This includes changing the filters and conducting inspections.

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Kenneth BKenneth B
22:25 10 Jun 24
Absolutely thrilled with Comfort Union! A friend recommended them, and it turned out to be an excellent suggestion. We were on the hunt for an efficient air conditioner with a higher SEER rating and a quiet unit, preferably with side discharge (smaller footprint). From the start, the team at Comfort Union was fantastic. They booked us for an estimate, walked us through our options, and recommended a GREE Flexx cold climate heat pump. The 20 SEER rating, 55 dB noise level, and variable speed compressor made the GREEE heat pump a smart investment over an air conditioner.Installation was a breeze—they completed everything in just one day. The crew was incredibly professional, and they also installed an Ecobee smart thermostat, which required fishing wires up to the second floor. They took the time to educate us about the system and ensure everything was running smoothly.I'm extremely satisfied with their work and highly recommend Comfort Union to anyone in need of HVAC services in Calgary!Kenneth
shameer khanshameer khan
03:54 06 Jun 24
This guys did all the services to my house I highly recommend them for all ur hvac plumbing ect and will definitely contact them again for anything else
Patrick FishleyPatrick Fishley
03:24 05 Jun 24
They were very quick to respond, diagnose and fix what was necessary. Darryl and Asif were very professional, courteous and efficient! I recommend these guys A+.
Emily AuEmily Au
21:32 02 Jun 24
We had Comfort Union install our air conditioner in late April. I really enjoyed working with them - members of the team were really responsive through text and email, and quick to address all my questions. They were always keen to help and gave me helpful tips on how to monitor my furnace for leaks.They're a wonderful father and sons team - I'd highly recommend giving them a call if you require HVAC or plumbing services.
Braeden RigbyBraeden Rigby
19:47 25 May 24
Comfort Union should be your first choice for all your HVAC needs. Amazing family run business with a people first approach that is difficult to find. Highly recommended for anyone that values quality work !
premnath parthibanpremnath parthiban
14:52 23 May 24
I spent almost one year to find the best HVaC replacement company and finally landed with Comfort union .I initially thought it was a small job but then realized the magnitude of work and effort it goes into it ..Asif initially came to my house , explained to me everything in detail including what is code of guidelines expected by city of Calgary , that showed his knowledge on the whole process ..Then came his brother Moore for installation - you will never find such a wonderful person who knows in and out of the HVAC and moreover the most patient person I have ever seen .. he did the whole installation with absolute craftsmanship and love for the work he did .. the best part was his perfectness and every work he did was so perfect and tidy !Finally, came Khan ji - to do the final inspection to add perfectness over the perfectness carried by Moore .. He did inspection and made sure everything was 200% correct ..Overall , I would recommend comfort union over any other service provider …Replaced my furnace , water tank and my humidifier …
JJ YanJJ Yan
02:22 22 May 24
Muhamad and Darryl did an excellent job on installation of our new Bradford White 75 gallon water heater. Extremely professional and hard working. They not only just did the work, but also explained the procedure thoroughly and maintenance focus points. Kept the work place tidy and in order. Highly recommended to everyone. JJ
mr2008 2.0mr2008 2.0
04:08 12 May 24
excellent carrier furnace and air conditioner installation, highly recommend to others
20:52 06 May 24
It was great to see a father and son team work so professionally in the delivery and installation of our new Bradford White water heater. Thanks team for a wonderful job.
Arman GillArman Gill
03:21 30 Apr 24
Friendly staff and did amazing work with carrier hvac
Inderpal SinghInderpal Singh
02:59 30 Apr 24
Amazing work. Good work on AC installation. Competive rates
Fast response due to the urgent occasions. The team is very experienced. Highly recommended!
Tushar AroraTushar Arora
23:04 06 Apr 24
Comfort union offers top notch furnace and hot water tank replacement services - contact the best furnace company in Calgary for all your needs. Highly recommended!!
Dipendra SitaulaDipendra Sitaula
18:28 02 Apr 24
Great and reliable service.
sunny Maharjansunny Maharjan
10:11 01 Apr 24
Best reasonable and quick in their response.
E TanE Tan
01:45 31 Mar 24
I recently hired Comfort Union to install a new hot water tank in my home, and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. They went above and beyond to ensure that the installation process was smooth and hassle-free from start to finish.Daryl's expertise and professionalism were evident from the moment he arrived at my home. He took the time to assess the layout of the space and discuss the best options for the installation, providing valuable insights and recommendations along the way. His attention to detail and commitment to quality craftsmanship were truly commendable.Throughout the installation process, Daryl and Mo worked efficiently and diligently, ensuring that everything was installed correctly and functioning optimally. They were respectful of my home, taking care to clean up any messes and leaving the work area spotless once the job was complete.I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to the entire team at Comfort Union for their outstanding service. Thanks to their expertise and dedication, I now have a reliable water heater that meets my needs perfectly. I would highly recommend Comfort Union to anyone in need of plumbing services – their professionalism and quality workmanship truly set them apart.
Ayaan DawoodAyaan Dawood
06:38 10 Mar 24
Imran Ahmed KhanImran Ahmed Khan
06:04 10 Mar 24
Maggie VaccaroMaggie Vaccaro
21:26 05 Mar 24
Quick response for appt. Came over and got all work done.Will call them again and will recommend them to others. Thanks!
Ashirul PatelAshirul Patel
22:57 26 Feb 24
We had great experience. They work out an efficient way to solve our furnace issues while maintaining the minimum cost.
Rakesh SachdevaRakesh Sachdeva
04:44 10 Feb 24
Muhammad is very professional and very cooperative. He has completed the work as explained. Everything was completed on same day we had issue. Very responsive.
Kly ClackKly Clack
22:28 08 Feb 24
Team at comfort union made me feel very comfortable about my purchases explained everything clearly and concisely so I could be confident in my decisions I would recommend them to anyone who asks.
Bhattarai AnuragBhattarai Anurag
02:33 07 Feb 24
Good service 👍🏽
Matt MelliesMatt Mellies
21:21 22 Jan 24
I had an issue with my furnace, went to reset my main breaker to power cycle trying to troubleshoot it... Breaker crapped out so I was sitting on an electrical, and furnace problem.Gave these guys a call and they were able to come out within 2 hours. Required a full main breaker replacement, and new gas valve on my furnace. They diagnosed it in only a couple hours, and fixed everything the same day.Had a great experience, the technicians that showed up were professional, and very knowledgeable. I'll definitely be using these guys when I eventually have replace my aging furnace.
Sharif ZayedSharif Zayed
00:15 22 Jan 24
Khan was so kind and considerate to help me during the -45 C calgary weather. We decided to replace our old furnace with newer and advance features choosing Carrier Furnace. We received the quote from Comfort Union which was competitively priced and the job was completed next day. Thanks.
Syed Zaigham RizviSyed Zaigham Rizvi
05:29 18 Jan 24
Had a bit of a crisis with rental property heating system in Calgary, our Goodman furnace gave out and had countless furnace repairs over the years. They got a new Carrier furnace installed quickly and very competitively priced compared to other carrier dealers. Wasn't expecting such quick service in the cold months. Definite recommend!
Mohammed SiddiqiMohammed Siddiqi
00:23 06 Jan 24
Absolutely stellar service from this HVAC company! The team was prompt, professional, and incredibly knowledgeable. They swiftly diagnosed and fixed our heating issue with precision. Their attention to detail and commitment to customer satisfaction truly set them apart. A 5-star experience – our go-to HVAC experts!
Agit KokuAgit Koku
21:40 13 Apr 23
I recently had Comfort Union come to my home to fix an issue with my hot water tank's pilot issue. Not only did the technician promptly fix the issue, but they also took the time to clean out my drain as a courtesy. I was impressed by their attention to detail and their commitment to providing excellent customer service.I would highly recommend Comfort Union for anyone in need of plumbing services.

Choosing Between Heat Pumps and Furnaces for Alberta Homes

Alberta residents need to think about more than just the installation and initial price when choosing a heating system for their house. Finding the better option—a heat pump or a furnace—depends in large part on the climate, energy efficiency, environmental effect, maintenance, durability, and local incentives.

Alberta has a climate that ranges from warm summers to bitterly severe winters when lows frequently fall below -20°C. Such severe weather calls for a dependable and effective heating system.

Heat Pumps:

Using cutting-edge technology, modern heat pumps—particularly those intended for colder climes—extract heat from bitterly cold air. Still, as the temperature drops, their effectiveness can diminish precipitously. Even with these improvements, there could be times during Alberta winters when heat pumps find it difficult to operate efficiently and keep things comfortable without additional heating systems.


Since gas furnaces produce heat by combustion and provide constant indoor warmth independent of climate change or the outside temperature, they are quite efficient in cold weather. They are therefore quite dependable in Alberta at the worst of the winter.

The degree of energy waste during the operation of a heating system determines its efficiency. Efficiency reduces the environmental effects of thermal energy in addition to operating costs.

Heat Pumps:

Generally speaking, air conditioning and heat pumps are more efficient than conventional heating systems. Their move of heat instead of its production uses a lot less energy, which lowers utility bills. Air-source heat pumps lose efficiency in really cold weather, though, which could result in increased running expenses.


90%–98% efficiency ratings are possible with new high-efficiency furnaces. Though they consume more energy than heat pumps, the more recent versions are made to squander as little energy as possible. A furnace's continuing expenses will be determined by how much natural gas or oil costs.

Considering how your heating system affects the environment is essential, particularly in view of global initiatives to lower carbon footprints.

Heat Pumps:

Especially in conjunction with a renewable energy source like solar power, heat pumps can drastically lower greenhouse gas emissions because they do not use fossil fuels. They can help to reduce one's personal carbon footprint and are seen to be more sustainable.


Burning propane, natural gas, or oil, traditional furnaces release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Though they emit less, more efficient furnaces nevertheless have a bigger environmental effect than heat pumps.

The longevity and maintenance needs of your heating system can also affect your decision.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps have fewer mechanical components that could go wrong, hence they usually need less maintenance than combustion-based heating systems. They still need routine maintenance, though, especially in colder climates, to make sure they run well.


These days, furnaces are made to last, even though their combustion process and moving parts may need more regular maintenance. Twenty to thirty years are possible for a well-maintained gas furnace to run efficiently.

Heat pumps and furnaces can have somewhat different installation difficulties and costs depending on the current home infrastructure.

Heat pumps:

If there isn't any ducting in your house, installation can be more difficult and pricey. Installing a ductless heat pump system in a house without ducts could be required, which would raise initial costs.


Generally speaking, replacing or installing a new furnace is easier and less expensive than installing a heat pump if a house already has ductwork in place. Costs can rise, though, if ducting has to be added or greatly altered.

Both the local as well as the federal government frequently provide incentives to promote the use of energy-efficient technology.

Heat Pumps:

Heat pumps are becoming a more financially appealing choice in Alberta thanks to government grants like the Canada Greener Homes Grant, which helps to partially defray the installation expenses.


While there are fewer incentives available for furnace installations, high-efficiency models could still be eligible for some energy-saving rebates and programs.

Especially for heat pumps, additional heating may be required during Alberta's coldest months.

Heat Pumps:

In very cold weather, they could need a backup heating source, which would complicate the system and raise the initial outlay.


Usually do not require extra heating because they can function at any outside temperature.

The capacity of a heating system to offer both heating and cooling can have a big impact on a homeowner's choice, particularly in areas like Alberta with erratic weather.

Heat Pumps:

Heat pumps' capacity to offer both heating and cooling is among their main benefits. Because of their twin purposes, heat pumps are a complete year-round climate control system. The system flips its functioning in the summer to function as an air conditioner, taking heat from the inside of the home and expelling it outside. Homes that see a variety of seasonal variations may find this adaptability appealing since it eliminates the need to purchase separate heating and cooling systems.


In the warmer months, traditional furnaces cannot cool a house; in colder months they can only heat it. For summer cooling, homeowners who opt for a furnace for winter heating will need to install an extra system, such as an air conditioner. Having a separate cooling system might make household energy management more difficult and raise initial infrastructure expenses.


The decision between a furnace and a heat pump for most Albertan households will mostly come down to personal requirements including the environment, level of insulation in the home, and financial constraints. In colder settings, furnaces are a more conventional and dependable source of heat; yet, heat pumps provide a more environmentally friendly option that may end up being more economical, especially with developments in heat pump technology for colder climes.

Consult with HVAC experts before you decide; they can offer advice based on the particulars of your house and the local weather. Whether you go for a heat pump or a furnace, companies like Comfort Union are qualified to provide professional guidance and installation, repair, and maintenance services that guarantee your house is pleasant all year round.

To conclude, although each system has advantages, in Alberta choosing between a heat pump and a furnace should be based on factors like cost, energy efficiency, long-term environmental effect, and climate compatibility.

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