Air conditioners are pretty straight-forward. They run as well as their equipment allows them to. When it comes to forced-air heating, however, there are other factors that influence efficiency. Furnaces provide powerful and consistent heating, but they’re not always efficient in moderate cold. Heat pumps make a great alternative, but they don’t always perform the best in lower temperatures.
A dual fuel system, however, allows you to have the best of both worlds. We’ll go into more detail on that below.
Let’s go into more details about why furnaces and heat pumps aren’t always the most efficient heaters.
Gas furnaces are inexpensive to install, inexpensive to operate, and they get the job done well. They’re typically sold and installed as part of any regular HVAC service in Arlington, TX. That’s why they’re one of the most popular heaters used in the country! However, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be better.
Furnaces rely on combustion to create heat. Generating heat from nothing requires a certain amount of energy. It turns out, however, that the energy consumption used in this process is a bit excessive when all you’re trying to do is heat a home between 40°F and 50°F.
Although electric furnaces do remedy this issue somewhat, the cost of electricity usually cancels out the benefits.
Heat pumps use electricity, too, but they’re more efficient for one big reason: they don’t generate heat, they move it from one place to another. This process is far less energy-intensive.
Heat pumps are, by far, the better heating choice when dealing with temperatures above 40°F. But then, you have to consider what happens when temperatures drop below that.
At a certain point, there’s not enough warmth in the air for a heat pump to work effectively. Heat pumps will noticeably struggle to utilize warm air at around 30°F. At that point, the furnace becomes the best heating option!
Some brands of heat pumps do have the technology to operate in temperatures as low as -15°F, but that can come with a higher price tag.
Dual Fuel Systems Offer the Best of Both
If neither a furnace or a heat pump is the perfect heater in every situation, then what are you supposed to do?
Instead of going to a different type of system entirely, dual fuel takes the best of both systems and combines them into one. Just as its name would suggest, dual fuel systems use both gas and electricity when appropriate.
A dual fuel system is primarily a heat pump, and it will run as a heat pump by default. As soon as outdoor temperatures drop to a certain point, however, the system will switch over to furnace-mode. It will begin using natural gas and rely on combustion to warm your home.
This whole process is automatic, so you won’t have to worry about keeping an eye on the temperature.
By the way, keep in mind that heat pumps can also function as air conditioners. If you need to upgrade your heater but have been considering an AC, a dual fuel system might be a convenient option.