A furnace paired with an air conditioner is the conventional choice of homeowners seeking to heat and cool their homes. However, there are alternative heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems which work together to provide balanced thermal comfort.
One such alternative is a dual-fuel heating system. This option combines the use of a furnace and a heat pump to efficiently heat and cool your home.
What Is a Furnace?
A furnace (generally a part of an HVAC system) is a heating appliance that heats cool air or water and distributes the warmed air or water throughout your home or a building. Furnaces are designed with parts like burners, heat exchangers, blowers and air ducts, which work together to provide consistent heat in cold or freezing temperatures.
There are different types of furnaces: natural gas, oil and electric. They vary in functionality because they are powered by different energy sources, but their overall performance is the same.
What Is a Heat Pump?
Heat pumps, which are powered by electricity, are versatile and energy-efficient heating and cooling machines. They heat your home in the winter and cool it in the summer. Heat pumps circulate heat throughout your home on colder days and remove heat on warmer days. Heat pumps are most efficient during hot or mildly cold weather. Their efficiency decreases once outdoor temperatures drop to around minus 8 degrees Celsius.
What Is a Dual-Fuel Heating System?
A dual-fuel heating system, or hybrid system, uses two types of heating equipment or energy sources to keep your home comfortable. They usually use electric heat pumps and gas furnaces, with the machines working together to stabilize indoor temperatures and maximize efficiency.
During the summer, heat pumps duplicate the function of air conditioners to provide cool air. Meanwhile, in the winter, they reverse the flow of refrigerant to provide warmth during moderately cold temperatures. When temperatures drop to around minus 8 degrees, the gas furnace automatically takes over to maximize efficiency. This process eliminates temperature fluctuations and increases utility savings for homeowners.
Things to Consider
Take some time to think about the following points when deciding if a dual-fuel heating system is right for you:
- Comfort: The versatility of a dual-fuel heating system means that it can heat and cool your home year-round – keeping you comfortable during any season. However, keep in mind that the furnace in this dual system blows hot and dry air while the heat pump blows warm and humid air.
- Climate: A dual-fuel heating system might not be your best option if you live somewhere with long, harsh winters. The heat pump in this kind of unit does not function efficiently during very low temperatures, and a high-efficiency furnace is likely a better choice. However, if the weather tends to transition smoothly between spring, summer, autumn and winter, then a dual-fuel heating system could work for you.
- Cost: As dual-fuel heating is a complete two-for-one heating and cooling system, the up-front installation costs can be high. This cost can be reduced if your home’s current setup is compatible – for example if you have an existing pump. Nevertheless, the hybrid system is so efficient that you can save an annual 30% to 50% on energy costs in the long run.
The Best Heating System for Your Home
Canada HVAC is your one-stop shop for all your home’s heating and cooling needs. Our experienced specialists can help you decide whether a heat pump, high-efficiency furnace or dual-fuel heating system is right for you. We can also connect you with a certified installation specialist.