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

July 19, 2022

The idea of installing both a furnace and heat pump can sound somewhat strange at first. After all, why do you need two heaters? Even though furnaces and heat pumps both provide energy-efficient heat, the differences in their design actually make using both of them a practical option. It’s not for everybody, but under the right conditions you can absolutely benefit from owning a furnace and a heat pump.

You’ll want to think about several factors in order to decide if this type of setup suits you. Your local climate and the square footage of your home are both very important, namely for the heat pump. This is because multiple models of heat pumps start to run less efficiently in cooler weather and larger homes. At the same time, you can still benefit from heat pump installation in Cambridge.

Heat Pumps Can Be Less Effective in Winter Weather

Heat pumps are typically less effective in cooler weather as a result of how they provide climate control to start with. Unlike furnaces, which ignite fuel to generate heat, a heat pump reverses its flow of refrigerant to draw heat from outdoor air. This heat is then brought 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 lower the temperature, the less efficient this process is.

The less heat energy is usable outside, the longer it takes a heat pump to bring heat indoors to generate your ideal temperature. It can depend on the exact make and model, but heat pumps may start to drop in efficiency at temperatures of 40 degrees and colder. 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 Run Best In?

Heat pumps work best in milder climates 40 degrees and up. That said, you don’t have to sacrifice the benefits of a heat pump just because your local climate is colder. After all, that’s why owning both a furnace and heat pump can be worth the cost. You can favor the heat pump for energy-efficient heat until the weather is chilly enough to call for shifting to something like a gas furnace.

Certain makes and models tout greater efficiency in winter weather. For example, the Lennox MLA heat pump is capable of working at 100% capacity at 0°F. It can even remain efficient in temperatures as cold as -22°F. For optimum energy efficiency, you’ll likely still want to switch to the furnace in particularly cold weather.

So Should I Put In a Heat Pump If I Use a Gas Furnace?

If you’re serious about maintaining the most energy-efficient HVAC system available, installing a heat pump and gas furnace at the same time is worth the investment. Not only is a dual-heating system adaptable, but it features other benefits such as:

  • Dependable backup heating – A redundant heating system means even if one fails, you still have the means to heat your home. It won't always be the most energy efficient, but it’s better than living in an unheated home while you hold out for repairs
  • Reduced energy costs – The ability to select which heating system you use based on the highest energy efficiency lowers your total costs. Smaller heating bills over the life of these systems can really add up to lots of savings
  • Less strain on both systems – Rather than running one system all winter long, heating duties are divided between the furnace and heat pump. Crucial parts could last longer given that they’re not under continuous use.

If you’re still unsure about heat pump installation in Cambridge, don’t hesitate to contact your local expert technicians. They can evaluate your home’s comfort needs and help you figure out if a dual-heating HVAC system is the ideal option.