Hybrids are all the rage these days. Cars. Power plants. Bicycles. Cash crops. The list goes on. In the hybridization of energy-producing technologies you stand to gain much in the way of efficiency, lower operating costs, and substantial cuts to your utility bills.
In order to understand what a hybrid system consists of and how it works to gain all these wonderful benefits, we must first examine its individual components: the heat pump and the furnace.
Chances are you’re familiar with a heat pump and don’t even know it. If you own a refrigerator, freezer, AC in your car, or a home AC unit — then you own a heat pump and have likely been operating them for many years. In the context of this post however, we’re going to be talking about during the winter when AC unit opens the reversing valve.
Opening the valve reverses the flow of coolant which turn brings heat inside your home that it gets from the col air outside the home. But how can you get heat from the winter air outside and bring it inside? That’s a great question! It’s little different than how your AC unit can bring in cold from the hot summer air outside. Without getting into the science of it – it’s basically exploiting the refrigeration cycle to transfer this heat energy from one place to another. Which is what makes them very efficient. They’re not actually generating any heat or cold. They’re simply moving it from one place to another.
The downside of the heat pump is that it does not function well when the temperatures are near, at, or below freezing. But generally they are cheaper to run than a furnace in milder weather.
Everyone is pretty much familiar with a furnace, having owned one, experienced the heat of one, or just know what one is. They are very good at providing large amounts of heat, very quickly, in even the coldest weather. However they are not as efficient as heat pumps. They also require the use of natural gas or propane – plus – electricity to run. Even so the furnace can be fairly inexpensive to run so long as the cost of the fuel for it remains low. However, everyone is aware of how fossil fuels and natural gas prices are rising.
The Hybrid Heating System
The advantages of one effectively negate a large part of the disadvantages of the other. Heat pumps don’t work well in winter, but furnaces sure do. However fuel costs can be expensive, and add to it the electrical cost of powering the furnace and the lower inefficiencies of the furnace compared to the heat pump, and you have the potential for a large utility bill.
But during time when you still want to heat your house when the weather isn’t as severe, then the heat pump is the best option. It’s very high efficiency and lack of need for a combustible fuel make for lower operational costs.
The savings in a well setup hybrid system can be high enough to have the system pay for itself from the savings generated in several years.
Your home is unique, and so is everyone else’s. There is not going to be a ‘best’ option for every home. Not only due to layout, budget and existing infrastructure, the your usage patterns and preferences. Each variable will have an effect on what’s best for you. If you would like to talk about what option is best for you, call one of the professionals here at AirMaxx Heating & Cooling today and we will be glad to work with you to find a solution that fits your individual needs.