Is a Dual Fuel Heat Pump Worth It?

First, what is a dual fuel heat pump? A dual fuel heat pump is a heat pump and gas furnace combination system that uses both electricity and gas to heat. Dual fuel heat pumps are smart and efficient. Obviously, since it is a heat pump, these systems also provide cooling. But why use both a heat pump and furnace? Shouldn't they be mutually exclusive? Is there an advantage to combining them in this way? Why not just get an air conditioner for cooling and a gas furnace for heating?

Dual Fuel Heat Pump Benefits

Investing in a good air conditioner and a reliable furnace is, in some ways, simpler than installing a dual fuel heat pump. You use the air conditioner in summer and the furnace in winter. Basic and straightforward.

But that traditional setup might not be as efficient as the kind of comfort performance you could get from a similar capacity dual fuel heat pump. Why is that?

Dual Fuel Heat Pump Benefits

Heat Pump Versatility

A heat pump is almost exactly like the standard air conditioner with which you're likely very familiar. It uses a compressed refrigerant in a coil to cool. What that process is actually doing is removing heat from the inside of a building and then throwing it outside. That's what the outside portion of an air conditioner is for. It is dumping all that heat extracted from the interior into the atmosphere.

Now, a heat pump takes this logic one step farther than a regular air conditioner. When it gets cold inside, the heat pump can take heat out of the atmosphere and bring it. Naturally, this makes the interior warmer. And the mechanism by which to do this does not complicate the construction very much. In other words, there is not a lot of difference mechanically speaking between an air conditioner and a heat pump.

The real advantage here is versatility. You can get both heating and cooling from just one system. Those are the kind of applications where a heat pump is great. Now, the downside is that there is only so much heat that is easily extracted from cold air. The closer the outside temperature gets to freezing, the harder a heat pump will have to work to keep you warm. No matter how well built the heat pump is there always comes a temperature point at which the heat pump simply cannot produce anymore heat.

Which can be a real problem in extreme cold. And that's where you need....

Gas Furnace Power

A heat pump can heat. Why get a furnace? Because of that heat-in-air problem we just talked about. In warm climates with mild winter weather, a heat pump may be all you need. In the north where people watch hockey and shovel snowy driveways, you may need more power to get it done. For most folks, that means a furnace.

Unlike a heat pump or an air conditioner, a furnace does not move heat around. It doesn't compress a refrigerant or require any kind of outside unit save for ventilation. A furnace literally creates heat via the combustion of a fossil fuel. For most folks anyway. Some Americans still use wood furnaces, but those are increasingly rare. Very few municipalities allow the kind of smoke pollution that even a very good wood furnace will create.

Basically, when you live in a cold weather climate, a furnace is your best tool to stay warm. A furnace can produce reliable heat virtually no matter the outside temperature.

A Dual Fuel Heat Pump is the Best of Both Worlds

 

When you invest in a dual fuel heat pump, you get a system that can deliver two things that everyone should want in a home HVAC system: versatility and reliability.

The heat pump side of a dual fuel heat pump is the versatility. When it's hot and humid, you have the heat pump for cooling. In mild but cool weather that you typically see in fall or spring, you can use the heat pump to heat as well.

Why wouldn't you just turn on the furnace? A furnace is powerful, but it can be overkill. When it's 60 degrees outside, using a furnace is like hitting a fly with a sledgehammer. Yes, it works, but you could just get a fly swatter.

In mild weather, heating from a heat pump is your fly swatter. Heat pumps are very efficient at heating in mild conditions. This is especially valuable for folks who use propane or fuel oil that may pay a slightly higher price for heating with a furnace. We're also reducing our operating time on our furnace, so we're reducing wear and tear.

Now, when the weather does turn sharply cold and a heat pump would lose efficiency, you can activate the furnace side of your dual fuel heat pump system. You get that reliable, unstoppable heating to keep your home comfortable and safe.

Dual Fuel Heat Pump Redundancy

Another great feature of a dual fuel heat pump system is redundancy. What if the heat exchanger on your furnace cracks? This does happen. If it happens to you, you are not totally bereft of central heat. You don't have to go to the hardware store and buy a dozen space heaters. You just activate the heat pump on your dual fuel heat pump system, and you are good to go. It might be a little more expensive than running the furnace, but it is WAY cheaper than relying just on space heaters. And it is a real lifesaver when the heat goes out in the middle of the night.

Which if your heat is going to go out, it is almost always going to be the middle of the night, because that's just how life goes.

Are You Interested in a Dual Fuel Heat Pump?

Do you like what you hear about a dual fuel heat pump? Good, because we have a huge inventory of these systems, and we're confident we can match you with the right one.

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