According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), heat pumps are invaluable for reaching ambitious emissions-reduction goals globally. In ideal operating conditions, some heat pumps perform at 400% efficiency by producing four times as much cooling or heating energy as they consume in electricity.

However, heat pumps can’t meet all heating and general comfort needs. In areas like Farmington Hills, MI, where temperatures often dip below freezing, they can’t heat homes as rapidly or reliably as natural gas furnaces. Fortunately, you can get the best of both worlds with a dual-fuel heating system. Read on to find out what dual-fuel heating systems are and why you might want one.

What Is a Dual Fuel Heating System?

Every home needs some sort of heater and an air conditioner for year-round climate control. Heat pumps serve both functions. In summer, they’re functionally identical to central air conditioners in that they draw in warm air from building interiors, extract heat, and distribute cooled air. In winter, heat pumps work in reverse by sourcing heat from outside.

Air-source heat pumps can extract heat from the outdoor air even when temperatures dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. High-performance or low-ambient heat pumps can continue sourcing outdoor heat even when temperatures dip below zero degrees Fahrenheit. However, in all cases, air-source heat pumps experience notable efficiency decreases the further outside temperatures fall.

Dual fuel heating systems pair heat pumps with natural gas furnaces for optimum performance and efficiency in all weather conditions. When temperatures dip below freezing, and a heat pump’s energy demand increases, a dual-fuel heating system automatically toggles to natural gas heating instead.

In a dual-fuel system, heat pumps and gas-fired furnaces share the same ducting but never operate simultaneously. Many dual-fuel heating systems are governed by smart thermostats that manage the transitions between heating equipment types.

Why Choose a Dual Fuel Heating System?

Entry-level and mid-performance heat pumps aren’t feasible for winter heating in Farmington Hills. These units require more energy to get their jobs done in below-freezing temperatures and have a high risk of icing over and shutting down. Although there are steps that HVAC installers can take to prevent and mitigate freezing at outdoor coils, these options simply aren’t reliable enough to avoid home heating emergencies when used as standalone heating solutions.

High-Performance Heat Pump May Be More Costly Than Using Gas

Installing a high-performance or low-ambient heat pump will provide a better outcome but won’t lead to the lowest possible energy costs. After all, electricity rates are usually significantly higher than the price of natural gas, and even high-performance heat pumps use more than the average amount of energy when the outside temperature is exceedingly low. Thus, while a high-performance heat pump won’t have any problems heating your home or ice over in below-freezing weather, it could still cause a steep rise in your energy bills.

Natural Gas Burns Hot and Heats Homes Quickly

There are also vast differences in the heat that gas-fired furnaces and heat pumps produce. These differences become increasingly noticeable the further outside temperatures fall. For instance, natural gas furnaces burn much hotter than heat pumps. They can produce heat as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

In comparison, most heat pumps deliver heat at 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat pump’s max temperature is slightly lower than the human body temperature and doesn’t always create the immediate feelings of warmth and comfort that residents seek.

Natural gas furnaces heat homes quickly. Because of their high-temperature heat, they often run fewer and shorter heating cycles. This leads to lower energy consumption and lower energy costs, and it helps homeowners get cozy quickly.

Surprisingly, among fossil fuels, natural gas is also clean-burning. Although even high-efficiency gas furnaces produce limited emissions, periodic or as-needed natural gas use won’t dramatically affect your carbon footprint. Hybrid or dual fuel heating systems make it easy to capitalize on each heater type’s environmental and economic benefits by constantly activating the option that will prove most effective and efficient in the moment.

Dual Fuel Heating Systems Offer Year-Round Humidity Control

For most homes, excess humidity is rarely a problem in winter. When gas-fired furnaces are on, indoor air tends to dry. However, larger households and homes that are rife with activity can get condensation on their windows and walls and develop a damp or all-around muggy feel.

At the same time, heat pumps don’t extract excess moisture when in heating mode. You can always toggle yours to dry mode when your home has reached your preferred temperature. If you use a furnace and air conditioner for year-round climate control, you might not enjoy this same flexibility in winter.

You Can Zone Your HVAC System With Dual Fuel Heating

You can zone your dual fuel heating system for customized air delivery as with other central HVAC equipment types. Zoning divides building interiors into two to four service areas. Each of your home’s zones will have its thermostat, and you can control the temperature in each zone independently.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), zoning can cut home heating and cooling costs by as much as 30% annually. Best of all, these savings come in addition to the already impressive savings that having a dual-fuel system provides.

Update Your Home

In areas with harsh winters, dual-fuel heating systems allow consumers to take a reasonable yet meaningful step toward electrification. In addition to being zero-emissions appliances, heat pumps trump air conditioners in efficiency and outperform natural gas heaters most of the time.

Dual fuel heating systems attract many savvy, potential home buyers for these and other reasons. If you anticipate selling your home in the coming years, this is an excellent improvement for boosting its marketability and value.

Dual Fuel Heating Systems Can Lead to Longer Heat Pump Lifespans

With a dual-fuel heating system, your heat pump won’t use more energy or work harder during unfavorable operating conditions. You might rarely use your heat pump throughout the coldest parts of winter. Less use leads to less wear and could result in a significantly longer lifespan.

Avoid Dangerous Home Heating Emergencies

Dual fuel heating systems additionally provide essential protection against winter heating emergencies. If your gas-fired furnace ever goes out, you can rely on the even and consistent heat provided by your heat pump until one of our technicians arrives. Having two permanent heating sources at your disposal minimizes the risk of temperature-related health issues like frostnip and hypothermia. It also offers added plumbing system protection against freezing and ruptured pipes.

We help Farmington Hills, MI, residents stay safe and comfortable while saving money. We offer outstanding HVAC, plumbing, and electrical services. We provide exceptional indoor air quality improvements, sewer services, and whole-house plumbing protection. If you want to heat your home with a dual-fuel heating system, contact AJ Danboise Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical today!

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