Do your heating bills seem to skyrocket with each passing year? If you've been using a natural gas, propane or oil furnace to heat your home, you might want to rethink your decision. A dual-fuel heat pump system is an efficient way to heat homes that are located in moderately cold climates. By transferring heat rather than burning fuel to generate it, energy bills may be reduced significantly.
How Does a Hybrid System Work?
The dual-fuel heat pump differs from a single-fuel heating system. With the latter, there will be one indoor furnace that generates heat by using fuel. A dual-fuel heat pump system will utilize an outdoor electric heat pump as well as the indoor furnace and coil. Basically, it combines two distinctive units, the heat pump and furnace, in one efficient system.
In a nutshell, a dual-fuel heat pump system, which is located outside the home, will obtain outdoor heat. The compressed air is heated further it as it is transferred to the coil on the indoor furnace. This is accomplished via refrigerant lines. The hot refrigerant line helps to heat the coil, so it may then transfer the heat into the home.
This can save on heating costs, because when temperatures remain steady and above the pump's balance point, the gas or oil furnace will not be used to generate heat. This helps you conserve fuel.
When temperatures drop (typically below 35 degrees Fahrenheit), the outdoor heat pump has reached the limit. Once this point has been reached, the outdoor fuel pump can no longer draw in adequate heat to warm the home. That's when the alternate fuel source, the indoor furnace, will warm the home.
It's an Air Conditioning Unit, Too
If you also require air conditioning during the hot summer months, a dual-fuel heat pump system will provide this as well. How does this work? Think of the concept in reverse order.
In other words, the air from the refrigerant lines will flow in an opposite direction. The warm indoor air is transferred to the heat pump via the refrigerant lines, and during this process it is cooled down through the coil. In addition, moisture is able to evaporate, so indoor air becomes less humid. This is accomplished by the use of longer cooling cycles, a feature of most dual-fuel heat pump systems.
In addition, most dual-fuel heat pump systems feature built-in evaporative cooling towers. These are also known as evaporative coolers. This feature allows condensation and moisture to drain off of the coils.
How Efficient Is This Hybrid System?
When generating heating energy, natural gas heating will cost more than the dual-fuel heat pump system. The use of propane and oil will typically run even more. Therefore, for homes located in temperate climates, the dual-fuel heat pump is an energy efficient option.
Features to Look For
Most dual-fuel heating and cooling systems will be equipped with a two-stage gas valve. This switch makes it easy to convert from natural gas to propane.
Some units also feature a horizontal or down flow application that may be used according to preference. What does this mean? The horizontal option allows you to mount the pump flush against the building. The down flow option allows the unit to be mounted on a rooftop. Having the option to mount the unit horizontally is helpful, as not all roofs will accommodate the down flow method. Conversely, when there isn't ample room to mount the heat pump flush against the building, a down flow mounting might be preferable.
How to Decide If a Dual-Fuel Heat Pump System Is Right for You
Ultimately, the decision should be based upon a couple of important factors. If you live in a cold climate that experiences freezing temperatures, this system may not be the ideal choice. However, if the coldest temperatures never reach the freezing point, you might want to consider a dual-fuel heating and cooling system.
Also, be aware that dual-fuel heating pump systems typically cost more than the customary systems you may have used in the past. In some cases, you could be spending upwards of $1,000 more for the hybrid model. However, the money saved on fuel costs over the next several years may be worth the initial investment.
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