HVAC Replacement GuideElectric Heat Pump vs. Gas Furnace for Sacramento: How to Choose

heat pump vs gas furnace

Jake Smith, Online Marketing Strategist
Technically Reviewed by Jake Smith, Online Marketing Strategist on Nov 30, 2023 | Written by Alpha Mechanical Editorial Contributors

Is your current heating system giving you trouble?

Then it might be time to consider the option of upgrading. But which one do you pick when it comes to heat pump vs. gas heat in Sacramento? Which makes more sense: electric or fossil fuel as a source of heat? Keep reading and we will do our best to help you decide when it comes to heat pump vs gas furnace, which is best!

The choice of heat pump vs gas furnace for California varies with location from snow in the north to desert in the south. When it comes to heat, picking the source is quite important, and frankly, it can be challenging to make up your mind.

It’s not just, is heat pump better than furnace?

You do not just want to choose solely based on how much heat the system provides; price and efficiency is an important driving force in making a smart decision. The solution you pick should be based on these preliminary factors: energy efficiency, existing fuel source availability, and maintenance cost. Then you can find your specific answer to heat pump vs gas furnace: which is better.

When getting a new heating system, which should you pick between an electric heat pump vs. a gas furnace?

Keep reading to find out which you should buy!

What Is the Difference Between
a Gas Furnace and an Air Source Heat Pump?

Before we get started on a heat pump versus a gas furnace comparison, it is essential to understand the difference between them. The main difference between a gas furnace and a heat pump is where the source of heat comes from. An electric heat pump uses air from the outside and transfers it indoors to heat your home. Even at freezing temperature outdoors there is heat in the air and the heat pump takes that energy and transfers it indoors. The reverse happens during the hot summer months. Heat energy from the indoor space is transferred outside through the outdoor unit.

The heat pump technology works by moving energy from a warmer place to a colder one. So during cold months, it draws warm energy from the air outside and distributes it throughout indoor space.

A gas furnace relies on natural gas or propane fossil fuel to generate heat; furnaces have burners that burn fuel into the heat exchanger, and then a blower circulates the heat into the indoor space.

Gas Furnace Vs. Electric Heat Pump for Sacramento: What Are the Pros and Cons?

What is better for a home in Sacramento a heat pump or a gas furnace?

To get a closer look at a gas furnace vs. electric heat pump in Sacramento, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of heat pumps and furnaces. This will also include the pros and cons of furnace upkeep versus heat pumps. Now, we’ll get to comparing heat pumps versus furnaces.

Gas Furnaces


1. Longer lifespan

Gas furnaces have a longer lifespan than electric heat pumps: a gas furnace can work efficiently for at least 15 years. Also, furnaces are used only in the colder months, so they don’t fail as often because they do not have to work year-round.

2. Easier maintenance

Because a gas furnace doesn’t have as many components as an electric pump, it is easier to maintain. The chances are that the furnace will break less frequently than a heat pump. Also, replacing parts of the furnace is cheaper than it would be with electric heat pumps.

3. Cheaper to operate in a cold climate

If you live in areas where the temperatures can get very cold, a gas furnace might be the best option. That is because furnaces work better in colder weather. There is no transfer of energy from one space to another; thus it is cheaper to use gas in below zero climates.


1. It could be dangerous in usage

Gas, if not detected, can be detrimental to your health. If there is a cracked heat exchanger in the furnace, combustible gases leak into the space and silently poison occupants. So you have to make sure that a professional regularly checks out the furnace for carbon monoxide leaks. A small leak, if ignored, can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and even death.

NOTE: When your furnace won’t turn on, it might not be the furnace’s fault. The thermostat is the main communication line for your HVAC system, and if it’s not working properly, your furnace won’t turn on when you set it to do so. Loose thermostat wires can prevent the thermostat from properly sending a signal to the furnace control board.

2. New gas line installation

Installing a gas furnace can be tricky. It all depends on whether the system is compatible with your home. You have to make sure that you have a source of natural gas before installing this heating system. So it would take more time and money to install a gas furnace.

3. Rising fuel cost

The cost of fossil fuel continues to rise in California. It depends on distribution costs, regulatory forces in the government, and seasonal demands. As the world becomes more conscious of global warming and reducing carbon footprint, fossil fuels will become more expensive. So you will pay more when you least expect it.

Take a look at the electric heat pump option before making a decision.

Electric Heat Pump


1. Cheaper to operate in warm climates

When it comes to comparing a heat pump vs. a natural gas furnace, where you live matters a lot. Using an electric heat pump for your California home is more affordable in areas like Sacramento. Living in a climate with no severe winters is advantageous for an electric heat source: you won’t have to spend a lot on electricity.

Sacramento residents can utilize SMUD utility rebates to convert their existing gas system into an electric air source heat pump system

2. Comfortable temperature & humidity

Another comparison between a gas furnace versus an electric heat pump is the type of heat each produces. Electric heat pumps generate cool heat: the heat is not very hot and dry. This creates a comfortable atmosphere in your home, and you won’t have to worry about dealing with dry air, which tends to irritate your skin.

3. Energy efficient

An electric pump is quite efficient, generating more energy than it consumes. 100% of the electricity is used to transfer the energy from one space to another, unlike a gas furnace which only can produce 80% to 96% of useful energy. Using electricity is also environmentally friendly. Electric pumps work well both in hot and cold climates; that is why these HVAC systems are popular in residential and commercial applications.


1. Not suitable for extreme weather conditions

Paying for electricity in an extreme climate to heat your space can be quite expensive. So if you live in a colder climate and use an electric pump, consider the cost of usage.

2. Expensive installation

While you can attempt to install an electric heat pump yourself (highly do not recommend it) it can be costly and dangerous. It is important that homeowners use a licensed professional to install their central heating system. They need to understand code requirements, deal with hazardous refrigerant, weld refrigerant piping, deal with electricity and controls, understand airflow distribution issues, and maintain proper safety protocol.

3. More maintenance

Air source heat pumps have more moving parts compared to a gas furnace. When it operates in the heating mode both the indoor and outdoor unit needs to function properly. For example, if the refrigerant charge is lost in the system, the heat pump will not produce proper heat intensity in the space. Also, if one of the defrost sensors malfunctions, the heat pump will freeze the outdoor unit and stop working. Then you have to invest in a heat pump repair service if something goes wrong.

In either case, heat pump or furnace, parts will break during its life; it is inevitable to have a licensed company install your system properly and maintain it regularly. This way crucial comfort interruptions can be reduced.

heat pump vs gas furnace for California

Heat Pump Vs. Gas Furnace Operating Costs:
Which Is Cheaper?

Now let’s talk about heat pump vs. gas furnace operating costs in Sacramento. Which one is more cost effective?

In general, the cost of lifetime operations depends on several factors. The installation cost of the system, the maintenance cost of the equipment, and available rebates. The choice of heat pump vs gas furnace for northern California can change based on location, as furnaces are more economical than air-source heat pumps when you have colder winters. However the geothermal heat pumps are more efficient during all conditions, the downside being higher upfront cost. All of these factors equate to return on investment (ROI).

If you’re thinking of making changes to your heating system, it’s important to compare heat pump versus gas furnace quotes. Understand that heat pumps will have a slight disadvantage when it comes to repairs. As the system gets older, repairs will be more frequent, and the lifetime cost for repair will be more. This can be offset with labor warranty purchases that will give you bumper to bumper coverage on your system.

The other factor to consider is how long you will live in the home. If you plan to live less than 5 years, installing a higher efficiency system (higher upfront cost) will lower your ROI. In terms of gas furnace vs heat pump efficiency it is up to three times more efficient in favor of heat pumps. All these factors need to be considered as a whole before a purchase is made. The answer to gas furnace vs heat pump depends on many factors. A good and competent HVAC professional can educate and guide you in the decision process.

Consider Alpha Mechanical as Your Trusted Partner

Are you looking to replace your heating systems? Consider a heat pump – its energy-efficient, saves you money on bills, and you may qualify for generous heat pump rebates in California. We have extensive experience with heat pumps and can help you choose the right one for your home. We also offer repair and maintenance services for all your HVAC needs, at affordable prices.

Call us today and work with the best furnace replacement services in Sacramento. Our technicians can help you repair your heating system. And if it is time to replace a gas furnace with a heat pump we can be there for you every step of the way.

Final Thoughts

What should you pick, a heat pump or a gas furnace in Sacramento? An electric heat pump is a cost-effective solution. Electric pumps are more efficient in warmer climates. Also, an electric heat pump operates both in winter and summer to provide your home with a safe and pleasant indoor environment. Eventually, the driving factor between gas furnace vs. heat pump in Sacramento comes down to fuel source availability and cost, installation cost, and available rebates. A heat pump is cheaper to run, although the installation is a little bit more expensive, but those costs are easily offset by rebates.

Do you have more questions about heat pump and gas furnace?

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a gas furnace vs. an electric heat pump for Sacramento?

A gas furnaces will rely on fuel such as natural gas vs heat pump that works by moving energy from the outside into your home in winter and vice versa in the summer. Another difference that can affect you when choosing between a heat pump or a furnace-based system is that heat pumps operate on electricity as opposed to the natural gasses for the furnace.

How much does it cost to replace a gas furnace with a heat pump for Sacramento?

When you replace gas furnace with heat pump it could even have cost savings. It might be cheaper than installing a new gas furnace, especially with SMUD rebates. Consult Alpha Mechanical to evaluate your replacement application and get recommendations on how to replace a gas furnace with a heat

What is cheaper to run heat pump or gas furnace?

The average yearly cost is $250-$350 for a heat pump versus furnace costs which are $350-$500. Additionally, heat pumps offer dual functionality, providing both heating and cooling, putting more value on the cost of heat pump vs gas furnace single use of heating.

Are heat pumps louder than gas furnaces?

The sound level can be higher with a heat pump vs gas heater, however this difference is not significant and may actually be quieter depending on the choice of system. If you are concerned about the noise level of a heat pump, you can talk to a qualified HVAC technician to get advice on how to choose a quiet unit and install it properly.

How does where I live affect choosing between a furnace or a heat pump?

One thing to keep in mind is that a cold climate heat pump will be less efficient than a furnace when using an air-source heat pump. However, a geothermal heat pump will be more efficient than a furnace regardless of climate.

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