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January 10, 2020
Homeowners looking to heat their home often think they only have two options: traditional combustion furnaces or electric air source heat pumps. But what if heating your home wasn’t an either/or decision, and a third option existed?
At Princeton Air, we’re seeing homeowners throughout Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset counties in New Jersey as well as Bucks County in Pennsylvania turning to hybrid heat pump installation. But what are hybrid heat systems and what are the benefits of hybrid heating in your home?
What’s the Difference Between a Furnace and a Heat Pump?
Establishing the difference between these two heating systems will help us understand how the two can be used in tandem to produce high energy savings and home comfort.
Oil or natural gas furnaces
Combustion furnaces have been the traditional way that many families heat their homes for decades. In a combustion furnace, fuel is ignited and used to heat air in a combustion chamber, which is then blown by the furnace fan into your central ductwork system and delivered throughout your house.
Historically, the main drawback of furnaces is that they aren’t super efficient, meaning there will be a percentage of fuel that isn’t converted into heat for your home. Heating technology has resulted in greatly improved furnace efficiency (usually noted as an AFUE rating), but with higher efficiencies comes increased prices.
The other drawback of combustion furnaces is that they run on fossil fuels, a finite resource that contributes to global warming.
Mini split heat pumps
Mini split heat pumps, on the other hand, are all-electric heating systems that operate by transferring heat. A heat pump can extract heat from outside air through an outdoor compressor unit, and into your home via refrigerant piping to an indoor air handler which connects to your central ductwork.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of heat pumps is that this process can be reversed, and heat can be extracted from indoor air and drawn outside. This makes heats pumps able to handle both the heating and cooling in your home, depending on the season.
Heat pumps are also incredibly energy efficient; in fact, they actually produce up to 3x as much energy as they require to operate. And depending on the method of production (such as home solar energy systems), electricity is a clean and renewable energy source.
A drawback of cold climate heat pumps is that while technology has advanced to the point where the systems can extract heat even from very cold air, they can struggle to draw enough heat to adequately warm an entire home when temperatures drop too low.
What’s the Benefit of a Hybrid Heating System?
A hybrid heat system, also called a dual fuel system, offers the best of both heating systems.
Hybrid heat systems are set up with a thermostat controller. Most of the year the heat pumps will be running, making your home comfortable at a fraction of the energy cost of traditional furnaces and air conditioners. But when the temperature dips below a certain point, the heating will switch over to the furnace, which can do a much better job of producing enough heat to keep your home warm.
Using a hybrid heat system in your home can save you an estimated 30–50% on your annual heating costs.
Upgrading to a hybrid heat system can:
Lower your energy bills
Keep your home comfortable year-round
Reduce your carbon footprint
Save Even More on HVAC with New Jersey Rebates
Looking to make the most out of your upgrade to a hybrid heating system with Princeton Air? Homeowners in Trenton, Edison, Princeton, and beyond can qualify for some significant rebates and incentives from the New Jersey Clean Energy Program—up to $1,500—when they install new energy efficient hybrid HVAC systems.