One of the recent developments in home heating systems is the use of a heat pump with a combustion furnace, called a dual-fuel system. Heat pumps use the heat from the outdoor air to heat homes and don’t require any fuel except electricity. They work well until temperatures fall into the or below the low 30s when the thermostat kicks the combustion furnace on to produce heat.

The main benefit of one of these systems is the heating efficiency a heat pump brings, which can reach 300 percent or more. The most efficient combustion furnace only reaches 98 percent, so relying on the heat pump for heat in all but the coldest weather saves energy.

Use these four factors to see if your home would be a suitable one for a dual-fuel system:

Have the HVAC contractor properly size your home for the system. They use a tool called Manual J that takes into account the size of your home, its insulation levels, the number, and energy efficiency of windows, air infiltration rates, and other factors that impact its heating load.

Look at the efficiency ratings of the heat pump and the combustion furnace. The heating efficiency for heat pumps is called the HSPF (heating season performance factor). The minimum is 7.7, and higher HSPF ratings heat more efficiently. Combustion furnaces are rated by their AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency), expressed as a percentage. The minimum is 78 percent, which means 22 percent of the fuel is wasted. Higher HSPF and AFUE systems cost more, but they save energy dollars by lowering your energy bills.

Compare the cost of fuel to the cost of electricity. The HVAC professional can run the numbers to see what your savings would be by combining a heat pump with a combustion system.

Check for compatibility. If your furnace is newer, it may be compatible with a heat pump. Using the two together could drop your heating bills.

To learn more about a dual-fuel system and its benefits, contact Pipe Works Services. We’ve provided HVAC services for Morris, Union, Somerset, and Essex counties since 2000. Our goal is to help educate our customers in Chatham, NJ, and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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