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

July 19, 2022

The thought of using both a furnace and heat pump may sound a little strange at first. After all, why would you need two sources of heat? Even though furnaces and heat pumps both provide energy-efficient heat, the variations in their design genuinely make installing both of them a reasonable option. It’s not for everyone, but with the right conditions you can absolutely benefit from using a furnace and a heat pump.

You’ll want to think about several factors in order to decide if this sort of setup works for you. Your local climate and the size of your home are both especially important, especially for the heat pump. This is because many models of heat pumps begin to function less effectively in colder weather and bigger homes. At the same time, you can still benefit from heat pump installation in Cedar Rapids.

Heat Pumps Might Be Less Efficient in Cold Weather

Heat pumps are typically less reliable in cooler weather because of how they create climate control to begin with. Compared to furnaces, which burn fuel to generate heat, a heat pump reverses its stream of refrigerant to draw heat from outdoor air. This heat is then brought inside and circulated throughout your home. Assuming there is still a bit of heat energy in the air, a heat pump should function. But the cooler the temperature, the less efficient this process is.

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

What Temperatures Do Heat Pumps Run Best In?

Heat pumps manage best in moderate climates 40 degrees and up. That being said, you don’t have to miss out on the benefits of a heat pump just because your local climate is cooler. As a matter of fact, that’s why installing both a furnace and heat pump can be worth the expense. You can use the heat pump for energy-efficient heat until the weather is chilly enough to justify switching to something like a gas furnace.

Some makes and models claim greater performance in cooler weather. For example, the Lennox MLA heat pump is capable of operating at 100% capacity at 0°F. It can even remain efficient in temperatures as extreme as -22°F. For maximum energy efficiency, you’ll likely still want to use the furnace in severely cold weather.

So Should I Get a Heat Pump If I Own a Gas Furnace?

If you’re serious about maintaining the most energy-efficient HVAC system possible, owning a heat pump and gas furnace at the same time deserves the investment. Not only is a dual-heating system versatile, but it features other perks like:

  • Dependable backup heating – A redundant heating system means even if one breaks down, you still have the capability to heat your home. It may not be the most energy efficient, but it’s better than shivering in an unheated home while you sit around for repairs
  • Lower energy costs – The ability to choose which heating system you use according to the highest energy efficiency decreases your total costs. Smaller heating bills over the life of these heaters can really add up to a lot of savings
  • Less strain on both systems – Compared to running one system all winter long, heating duties are split between the furnace and heat pump. Key hardware may survive longer given that they’re not under continuous use.

If you’re still not sure about heat pump installation in Cedar Rapids, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local expert technicians. They can review your home’s comfort needs and help you decide if a dual-heating HVAC system is the right option.