Let us help you understand what a heat pump is, because many people still have difficulty understanding just how a heat pump works and how an air conditioner can provide heat and keep you warm. Heat pumps can operate on gas or electricity.
What is a heat pump?
- Definition of a heat pump for inquiring minds: in the heating mode, a heat pump is a reverse air conditioner. In the summer, a heat pump or an air conditioner, extracts heat from within your house and discharges it outside, leaving the air inside the building cooler. In the winter, by reversing the flow of refrigerant and it’s utilization, it extracts heat from outside of the house and brings it inside where it is sent into the house or building through the ductwork.
- How does it do that? All air has heat in it. When you take 72 degree (F) air and remove 10 degrees of heat from it, you now have 62 degree air. That’s what a heat pump does. Through reverse refrigeration, a heat pump can extract heat from the outside air by extracting (absorbing) it into the refrigerant via the compressor, a process of heat exchange, and it can do this more efficiently and cleaner than any other type of system, except when the outside temperature gets down around 32 degrees.
- What is the advantage of a Dual Fuel System? No other system operates more efficiently and cost effectively for heating than a heat pump within a certain temperature range. A heat pump’s capacity or heating capability is reduced when the outside temperature falls below 32 degrees when it typically has to use an electric strip heater to provide the supplementary heat needed at these times. When this happens on a heat pump you may see a light indicating “auxiliary heat”.
- When combining the efficiency of a heat pump during it’s peak operating period with a high efficiency gas furnace, oil furnace or boiler for the times when it is less efficient, a Dual Fuel System provides the maximum efficiency, payback and comfort level of both fuels and systems available.
- Who should install a dual fuel system? Customers who already have furnaces in their homes and whose central air conditioners need replacing. When their air conditioner goes bad, some consumers are upgrading with a heat pump to work in conjunction with their existing furnace. This gives them the advantage of a new air conditioner for better cooling comfort and a heat pump (the same piece of equipment outside), which can be used most efficiently for heating on those days when the temperature is above 32 degrees.
- The largest group is homeowners interested in dual fuel systems are those that have watched oil prices rocket to record highs these past months, and which are predicted to rise even higher this winter…people who have read various consumer reports like the Energy Department report not long ago, that stated “Winter heating bills will be a 33% to 50% higher for most families across the country, with the sharpest increases expected for those who heat with natural gas”, the Energy Department forecast recently.
- How do I benefit? If you have an oil or gas system, you can benefit by adding an electric system (heat pump). If you presently have an electric system (heat pump) you can still benefit by adding oil or natural gas. Dual Fuel heating enables you to add a second heating system to your current system and gives you an appealing alternative to the roller coaster pricing of fuel oil and most gas heating systems because Dual Fuel rates are most likely to remain stable year round.