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Should I Install a Furnace with a Heat Pump? It Depends

July 19, 2022

The concept of running both a furnace and heat pump can seem a bit odd at first. After all, why would you need two sources of heat? Even though furnaces and heat pumps both deliver energy-efficient heat, the changes in their design really make employing both of them a worthwhile option. It’s not for all of us, but with the right conditions you could absolutely benefit from having a furnace and a heat pump.

You’ll want to weigh several factors in order to decide if this type of setup suits you. Your local climate and the dimensions of your home are both very important, namely for the heat pump. This is because some models of heat pumps will run less efficiently in colder weather and larger homes. At the same time, you can still take advantage of heat pump installation in Anchorage.

Heat Pumps Might Be Less Efficient in Cold Weather

Heat pumps are commonly less reliable in colder weather as a result of how they provide climate control in the first place. Compared to furnaces, which burn fuel to provide heat, a heat pump reverses its flow of refrigerant to pull heat from outdoor air. This heat is then brought inside and distributed around your home. Assuming there is still some heat energy in the air, a heat pump can function. But the colder the temperature, the less efficient this process is.

The less heat energy is available outside, the longer it takes a heat pump to bring heat indoors to reach your preferred temperature. It may depend on the exact make and model, but heat pumps may start to lose out on efficiency at temperatures of 40 degrees and colder. They can still be an energy-efficient option until 20-25 degrees, after which a gas furnace is more effective.

What Temperatures Do Heat Pumps Run Best In?

Heat pumps function best in moderate climates 40 degrees and up. That said, you don’t have to give up on the benefits of a heat pump just because your local climate is cold. After all, that’s why installing both a furnace and heat pump may be worth the cost. You can keep the heat pump for energy-efficient heat until the weather is cold enough to justify swapping to something like a gas furnace.

A few makes and models boast greater effectiveness in cold 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 extreme as -22°F. For optimum energy efficiency, you’ll likely still want to swap to the furnace in especially cold weather.

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

If you’re interested in maintaining the most energy-efficient HVAC system possible, owning a heat pump and gas furnace at the same time warrants the investment. Not only is a dual-heating system adaptable, but it offers other advantages like:

  • A source of backup heating – A redundant heating system means even if one stops working, you still have the capability to heat your home. It might not be the most energy efficient, but it’s better than living in an unheated home while you sit around for repairs
  • Lower energy costs – The ability to select which heating system you use based on the highest energy efficiency decreases your total costs. Smaller heating bills over the lifetime of these systems can really add up to lots of savings
  • Less strain on both systems – Instead of running one system all winter long, heating resources are separated between the furnace and heat pump. Key components can live longer given that they’re not under constant use.

If you’re still hesitant about heat pump installation in Anchorage, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local professional technicians. They can walk you through your home’s comfort needs and help you determine if a dual-heating HVAC system is the better option.