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

July 19, 2022

The concept of using both a furnace and heat pump can feel a little odd at first. After all, why do you need two sources of heat? Even though furnaces and heat pumps both deliver energy-efficient heat, the variations in their design genuinely make employing both of them a viable option. It’s not for everybody, but under the right conditions you could definitely benefit from having a furnace and a heat pump.

You should weigh several factors in order to confirm if this kind of setup works for you. Your local climate and the dimensions of your home are both very important, namely for the heat pump. This is because numerous models of heat pumps will run less efficiently in colder weather and large homes. Even so, you can still benefit from heat pump installation in Sandpoint.

Heat Pumps Can Be Less Efficient in Winter Weather

Heat pumps are generally less efficient in colder weather due to how they generate climate control to start with. Unlike furnaces, which burn fuel to create heat, a heat pump reverses its supply of refrigerant to draw heat from outdoor air. This heat is then pulled inside and distributed around your home. Assuming there is still a little heat energy in the air, a heat pump will function. But the lower the temperature, the less reliable this process is.

The less heat energy is accessible outside, the more time is needed for a heat pump to draw heat indoors to maintain your desired temperature. It might depend on the specific make and model, but heat pumps generally start to lose out on efficiency at temperatures of 40 degrees and colder. They should still be an energy-efficient option until 20-25 degrees, at which point a gas furnace will be more effective.

What Temperatures Do Heat Pumps Run Best In?

Heat pumps manage best in milder climates 40 degrees and up. Having said that, you don’t have to sacrifice the benefits of a heat pump just because your local climate is cold. In fact, that’s why using both a furnace and heat pump might be worth the costs. You can keep the heat pump for energy-efficient heat until the weather is chilly enough to justify swapping to something like a gas furnace.

A few 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 functional 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 Install a Heat Pump If I Use a Gas Furnace?

If you’re interested in maintaining the most energy-efficient HVAC system achievable, having a heat pump and gas furnace at the same time is worth the investment. Not only is a dual-heating system adaptable, but it offers other benefits 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 won't always be the most energy efficient, but it’s better than living in an unheated home while you wait for repairs
  • Fewer energy costs – The ability to pick which heating system you use based on the highest energy efficiency decreases your total costs. Smaller heating bills over the life of these heating systems can really add up to plenty of savings
  • Less strain on both systems – Rather than running one system all winter long, heating responsibilities are separated between the furnace and heat pump. Essential hardware may last longer as they’re not under continuous use.

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