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Heat Pump vs Gas Furnace: Which should I install?

12 years ago

I am building a new 2400 square foot house in lower Alabama. I have the opportunity to have my heating be either electric or gas. My builder is providing these options:

1. 13 SEER AC unit; natural gas furnace; natural gas water heater (I am not sure of the specifics of the furnace & hot water heater, but fairly basic models I think).

2. 14 SEER Heat Pump (air source) and Marathon Electric hot water heater.

The builder is offering the free upgrade (option #2) because of the offset from the electric company to hook up our house to the grid if we are using more electricity by installing more electrical systems in the house.

I met with the electric power company and they provided documentation that for a home in our area we can save about 25% of our utility costs by installing the heat pump and electric hot water instead of natural gas systems.

Is this a no-brainer decision? I should go with the free upgraded system since we are in hot climate and the AC will be more efficient? Are there any other questions I should asking before making this decision?

Other facts: There will just be two of us in the house. We just moved out of an all electric home and are used to the performance of a heat pump/electric hot water heater and did not dislike what we had, but we were in a milder climate (North Carolina).

I haven't checked into a geothermal heat pump as I am assuming that it would be a budget buster.

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