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Ductless Heat Pump vs. Furnace

October 29, 2019

Oregon Ductless Heroes

Heating your home is essential here in Oregon. You shouldn’t make a decision that impacts the comfort, safety, and finances of your family without being informed. We’ve broken down the pros and cons of two of the most popular heating options in Oregon to help you choose what is best for you and your family. Let’s start with the furnace.


What is it?

Generally, a furnace generates heat in and of itself by burning gas or fuel oil. Furnaces use fans, burners and a heat exchanger to transfer the heat generated from burning fuel to the air. Then, the fans blow the heated air through your ductwork into your home.


Furnaces have been the standard for such a long time because they are reliable. They can last 15 to 20 years, much longer than the boiler which was the standard before it. Furnaces can generate heat by burning fuel, so they can overcome even the coldest of outside temperatures.


Furnaces lack the versatility of a ductless heat pump. They require ductwork, which can make your system more inefficient due to leaks and the inevitable loss of heat as hot air travels through your ducts. Furnaces, as a gas-powered system, runs a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, especially if you don’t do routine maintenance. You may not think it will happen to you, but dozens die every year from it, so make sure you are getting your system maintenanced. Lastly, furnaces burn fossil fuels. Even natural gas, the “cleanest” fossil fuel releases carbon into the atmosphere and we know this is not sustainable in the longterm.

Ductless Heat Pump

What is it?

Seeing the problems with furnaces and air conditioners, engineers in 1970s Japan saw a better way to heat and cool the home. These ductless heat pumps—also called a mini-split—allowed for heating that was electrically based and much more efficient. This system merely extracts and redistributes the heat in the air outside and moves it indoors. No ducts are used, as heated air is blown directly into the room with the mini-split. You’ll need multiple mini-splits throughout your home to heat the entire thing and they’ll be connected to an outdoor unit you’ll need to install as well.


A ductless heat pump is a newer technology that is much more energy-efficient than the heating systems that came before it. You’ll have multiple localized units throughout your home instead of one large central system. This allows customization throughout the home and translates to direct savings when you turn off a system in a part of the house you don’t need heated. A central system does not have this capability.

Additionally, it is estimated that up to 30% of heat can be lost when traveling through ductwork. A ductless system eliminates that energy loss. Oregon’s electricity is cheap relative to other states making electric heating an even more attractive option. In addition to month to month savings, your utility company may offer a rebate to help with installation costs. Check here.

Lastly, heat pumps do not burn fossil fuels. Especially since most of Oregon’s electricity is generated from renewable sources like hydroelectric, a ductless mini-split is the environmentally-conscience option.


There are some downsides to ductless mini-splits. They have higher installation costs than typical furnaces, but this doesn’t include ductwork. You will likely make up this difference in your month to month bills. Some people dislike the look of a mini-split on their wall or ceiling, though there are a variety of looks to choose from that can fit within your home’s aesthetic.

Overall, a ductless heat pump is generally the better option. In some cases, such as areas with extremely high electricity costs and exceedingly cold winters like Maine, it may be more cost-effective to burn fuel for heat with a furnace. Generally, this is the exception, not the rule. The added efficiency of the ductless heat pump is simply too great.

If you are interested in installing a ductless heat pump system, give Oregon Ductless Heroes a call at (503) 755-5332 or fill out a contact form online.

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