Do I Need a Furnace with a Heat Pump? It Depends

July 19, 2022

The concept of running both a furnace and heat pump can feel a bit unusual at first. After all, why do you need two heating systems? While furnaces and heat pumps both offer energy-efficient heat, the variations in their design really make installing both of them a reasonable option. It’s not for everyone, but with the right conditions you can absolutely benefit from owning a furnace and a heat pump.

You should weigh several factors in order to determine if this type of setup works for you. Your local climate and the dimensions of your home are both highly important, particularly for the heat pump. This is because multiple models of heat pumps will work less efficiently in colder weather and larger homes. At the same time, you can still take advantage of heat pump installation in Stuart.

Heat Pumps Can Be Less Effective in Cold Weather

Heat pumps are typically less reliable in cooler weather because of how they create climate control to begin with. As opposed to furnaces, which combust fuel to generate heat, a heat pump reverses its flow of refrigerant to extract heat from outdoor air. This heat is then drawn inside and circulated all through your home. Assuming there is still a bit of heat energy in the air, a heat pump should function. But the colder the temperature, the less efficient this process is.

The less heat energy is accessible outside, the more time is needed for a heat pump to bring heat indoors to generate your ideal temperature. It might depend on the specific make and model, but heat pumps may start to drop in efficiency at temperatures of 40 degrees and below. They can still be an energy-efficient option until 20-25 degrees, at which a gas furnace is more effective.

What Temperatures Do Heat Pumps Work Best In?

Heat pumps function best in milder climates 40 degrees and up. Having said that, you don’t have to give up on the benefits of a heat pump just because your local climate is cold. In fact, that’s why installing both a furnace and heat pump might be worth the costs. You can keep the heat pump for energy-efficient heat until the weather is cold enough to call for shifting to something like a gas furnace.

Certain makes and models tout greater efficiency in cold weather. For example, the Lennox MLA heat pump is capable of running at 100% capacity at 0°F. It can even remain functional in temperatures as low as -22°F. For optimal energy efficiency, you’ll likely still want to use the furnace in especially cold weather.

So Should I Install a Heat Pump If I Use a Gas Furnace?

If you’re thinking about maintaining the most energy-efficient HVAC system available, having a heat pump and gas furnace at the same time is worth the investment. Not only is a dual-heating system versatile, but it features other advantages like:

  • Reliable backup heating – A redundant heating system means even if one breaks down, you still have the capability to heat your home. It won't always be the most energy efficient, but it’s better than having an unheated home while you hold out for repairs
  • Reduced energy costs – The ability to choose which heating system you use according to the highest energy efficiency reduces your total costs. Smaller heating bills over the life of these heating systems can really add up to a lot of savings
  • Less strain on both systems – Compared to running one system all winter long, heating resources are divided between the furnace and heat pump. Key components may last longer since they’re not under continuous use.

If you’re still uncertain about heat pump installation in Stuart, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local professional technicians. They can review your home’s comfort needs and help you determine if a dual-heating HVAC system is the best option.