If you’re looking to upgrade your current HVAC system and are researching the difference between a heat pump and a gas furnace, there’s a good chance you are finding articles online that discuss the pros and cons of a heat pump vs a gas furnace.
In this blog post, we want to share an option that may not be surfacing in your online searches — a heat pump with a gas furnace backup, which is known as a hybrid heat system.
What is hybrid heat?
A hybrid heat system uses a conventional gas furnace in conjunction with an electric-powered air source heat pump. The heat pump looks like the outdoor air conditioning unit and works similarly. While an air conditioning unit moves warm air from inside the house outside, a heat pump does just the opposite. In the winter, it gathers heat outside, concentrates it and moves it inside. Moving heat is much more efficient than creating heat.
Three reasons to consider a heat pump with gas furnace backup:
1) You want to save money
When customers are considering a hybrid system, a common question we hear is, “Do you really save money with a heat pump?” Since heat pumps are powered by electricity, homeowners have the flexibility of switching between gas and electricity to heat the house. For example, when gas is less expensive a homeowner can set the system to run the gas furnace more and the heat pump less. There are many hybrid heat options available that are Energy Star® qualified and that will provide energy-efficient heating and cooling to help reduce your energy costs.
2) You want to be more comfortable
Combining a high-efficiency gas furnace with an electric air source heat pump will provide continuous temperature control in your home. Most gas furnaces kick on and off trying to reach the right temperature. A heat pump has a much longer run cycle, which keeps temperatures more constant in the home. Some deluxe models feature variable capacity, which allows them to run on a lower speed for longer cycles and provide higher energy efficiency and comfort. This reduces those four- to five-degree swings in temperature that come with single-speed furnaces.
3) You live in a mild climate
Due to the design of heat pumps, they will heat your home most efficiently when the outside temperature is 25 to 60 degrees. However, the Carrier® Greenspeed® heat pump is capable of working efficiently at outdoor temperatures as cold as 0 degrees. The gas furnace is more efficient when temperatures are below 25 because it is designed to handle that load. If you live in a location where it’s colder than 25 degrees the majority of the time (e.g., Alaska), a heat pump may not be the most efficient choice. In Iowa, the hybrid system makes perfect sense. The heat pump provides heat the majority of the time, when the temperature is moderate, and the gas furnace takes over when the weather is severe.