Hybrid Heating: All Your Questions Answered

  • December 19, 2023
  • By MR COOL

The world of HVAC is always pushing forward, although it may appear stagnant at first glance. This constant urgency for innovation means creating new solutions in order to advance the industry. While not technically brand new, an uncommon heating and cooling solution is hybrid heating. Hybrid heat systems, also known as dual fuel systems, combine two different types of HVAC units to maximize efficiency.

What’s “hybrid” about hybrid heating?

Even though hybrid systems are relatively uncommon, they’re pretty simple if you’re familiar with HVAC. If you are not, let’s put it like this: you’re probably used to a standard split system air conditioner and furnace, with the air conditioner condenser outside and the furnace inside, connected to ductwork. If you don’t have that, then you might have a heat pump split system, which requires both indoor and outdoor units to work together in order to heat and cool.

While both of these methods will heat and cool your home, they have a few caveats. Heat pumps have a reputation of not heating as adequately in lower temperatures, and furnaces require you to rely solely on burning fuel to heat. This being said, gas furnaces are extremely reliable, while cold climate heat pumps (heat pumps designed to function in lower temperatures) are efficient.

Hybrid heating combines the best of both worlds while minimizing the individual drawbacks of the units. Perfect for temperate to cold climates, hybrid heating allows the best unit to perform at the optimal time, maximizing the effectiveness of the system as a whole and bringing your home to your preferred temperature faster. Overall, hyper heat systems improve on units that have always worked for you by combining them!

How does a heat pump work?

First of all, what IS a heat pump? A heat pump is an HVAC system that can heat and cool. Typically made up of two units, an outdoor condenser and an indoor air handler, it uses electricity to operate, meaning it doesn’t burn fuel.

When cooling, the system absorbs heat from your home using the refrigerant in the air handler’s evaporator coil. The heat is absorbed by the refrigerant, which then travels from the air handler to the condenser through the line set. The refrigerant then releases the heat outdoors, and travels back inside to the air handler to repeat the process. This process allows cold air – technically, air with no heat – to be spread through your ductwork by the air handler’s blower motor until your home is the temperature you want.

The same process essentially occurs in reverse when the system is heating. Heat is absorbed from outside and transported inside via the refrigerant lines to be dispersed throughout your home. Since heat pumps must absorb heat from outdoors during the winter, they have gained a reputation for being inefficient, because they must work harder the colder it gets outside. We’ve developed a number of cold climate heat pumps that will work effectively and efficiently in colder weather conditions, allowing you to go longer without turning on your gas furnace if you opt for hybrid heating.

How does a gas furnace work?

It’s likely easier to visualize how a gas furnace works because they’re extremely familiar to most Americans. 47% of households primarily use natural gas furnaces to heat, so if you don’t have one, you’ve probably seen one.

A furnace’s method of heating is pretty straightforward. Furnaces burn a fuel source – either natural gas or propane. The resulting heat is pushed through your ductwork by the unit’s blower motor until your home reaches the set temperature. 

Because furnaces only produce heat, they typically also house or are paired with an evaporator coil, which the cooling system will utilize to draw heat from the home in warmer months. When the system is in cooling mode, the gas furnace functions as an air handler. Usually, this cooling system is an air conditioner, but a hybrid heat system employs a heat pump to optimize your home HVAC system.

How does a hybrid heating system work?

Now that you know how each individual system works, understanding hybrid heating is going to be a breeze. 

The two systems essentially work together, with the heat pump condenser cooling in the summer and heating in the spring and fall, and the gas furnace providing heat during the coldest time of year. The heat pump condenser will mainly act as an air conditioner, but will allow you to put off using the gas furnace for a bit longer, especially if you utilize a cold climate heat pump. You’ll be able to enjoy optimal comfort provided by the ideal unit at the right time with hybrid heating systems.

If you’re thinking about investing in a more efficient system, here are some terms you should know. 

  1. AFUE – AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) signifies the efficiency of a furnace. If a furnace is 96% AFUE, then 96 cents of every dollar spent on heating is effectively turned into heat. This means that only 4 cents of every dollar are wasted.
  2. SEER2 – SEER2 (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) conveys the efficiency of cooling products, like air conditioners and heat pumps when in cooling modes. This metric was recently updated in an industry-wide push towards higher standards, helping make energy-conscious choices easier for consumers.
  3. HSPF2 – The HSPF2 (Heating Season Performance Factor) indicates the heating efficiency of heat pumps. Like SEER2, this metric was also updated recently to hold HVAC products to a higher standard. 

These acronyms will typically be followed by numbers, signifying the efficiency of a system. As a general rule of thumb, the higher these numbers are, the more efficient a system will be. AFUE is pretty easy to figure out, but there may be a little more confusion when it comes to the other acronyms. The minimum standard for SEER2 in northern states is 13.4 and 14.3 in southern states. The minimum HSPF2 requirement is 7.5. Since standards for HVAC equipment are constantly being raised by governing authorities, there’s a chance that these minimum requirements are already higher than the efficiency ratings of your current units.

When you get down to it, the ins and outs of hybrid heating are relatively basic. With both heating and cooling appropriately covered and optimized by a hybrid system, you won’t have to worry about comfort for a long time. 

What’s in it for me?

Homeowners have a plethora of reasons to make their homes more efficient with hybrid heating. One of the most motivating factors is cost – the more efficient an HVAC system is, the less expensive it will be to run. Heating and cooling accounts for around 42% of an average single family home’s electric bill. Investing in a higher efficiency HVAC system can cut these costs significantly, allowing you to save much more money on your electricity bill than before. 

While purchasing a new HVAC system might seem pricey up front, hybrid heating systems are a great choice if you want a reliable, long-lasting solution. Gas furnaces typically have a long lifespan of around 15-20 years. Heat pumps usually have a shorter lifespan, tending to max out at 15 years. Combining a heat pump condenser with a gas furnace can improve the entire system’s lifespan, potentially for 20-25 years.

Many high-efficiency heat pumps also qualify for rebates and tax credits made available by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. If your heat pump reaches a certain efficiency threshold decided by Energy Star, you can claim 30% of the project cost up to $2,000. This carves out a significant chunk of the initial cost of a system, making it easier to switch to a higher efficiency heat pump. A number of states are also in the process of applying for additional federal funding, allowing customers to stack federal incentives with state rebates. The Greener Homes Initiative offers multiple forms of cost relief for Canadians looking to improve their homes through energy-efficient means. More information regarding this and similar programs throughout the states should come out in the following months, increasing the likelihood of a better unit that costs less.

Another extremely important thought to consider is your home’s impact on the environment. Easing your reliance off of fossil fuels with a heat pump is a great way to shrink your carbon footprint. According to the EPA, 13% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 were attributed to commercial and residential sources, a large part of which came from gas furnaces. Removing a portion of the responsibility of heating from a gas furnace can greatly help to alleviate its emissions, creating a cleaner environment and a greener future for all. 

Where do I start? 

With so many different HVAC systems on the market, it can be a challenge to settle on one, especially when it feels like you’re mixing and matching units. It doesn’t help that there are so many things to keep track of, such as efficiency levels and airflow directions, either. Luckily, we can help you choose the best hybrid heating system for your needs. 

The Central Ducted Hyper Heat system would be a great cold climate heat pump to utilize in a dual fuel/hybrid heating system. The 24k BTU model has a SEER2 of up to 17.4 and an HSPF2 rating of up to 10. Because this is a “Hyper Heat” product, you can delay your reliance on a gas furnace for even longer. The ability to heat down to -22­° Fahrenheit means that for much of the country most of the year, you can heat your home independent of fossil fuels. The no-registration required 10 year parts, labor, and compressor warranty is the best in the industry, offering a catch-all failsafe to keep you and your family comfortable all year long, too. 

As for gas furnaces, our 96% AFUE Signature Series gas furnace is a great choice for heating on particularly icy days. Because it is a 96% AFUE furnace, it utilizes close to all of the money that you’ll use when it is heating your home. The multi-speed blower motor also complements the heat pump during a cooling season, allowing for high-efficiency performance all year long. On top of this system’s intelligent design, it’s got a 10 year parts warranty and a lifetime heat exchanger warranty when you register

Your new hybrid heating system must be installed by an HVAC professional. Take a look at our Where to Purchase page and our Installer page to locate retailers or installers near you.

I think I want to switch to hybrid heating!

Hybrid heat systems solve a number of home comfort problems that may be a little harder for other systems to overcome. Whether your motivation is the cost of your electric bills, ultimate convenience, or the health of the environment, a dual fuel system might be the perfect HVAC solution for you.

If you’ve thought over all of your options and you’ve decided that hybrid heating is the best method of keeping you and your family comfortable, we’d be more than happy to help you make the switch! 

Give us a call at 270-366-0457 or send us an email at https://mrcool.com/contact/ so we can help you find the best fit for your home.

8 thoughts on “Hybrid Heating: All Your Questions Answered”

    1. That means the unit is in defrost mode to melt any ice built up on the exterior coil. It is typically a normal mode of operation, but if you feel that the system is defrosting too often, or isn’t working as it should, please give us a call at 370-366-0457 as soon as you can.

  1. Necesito comprar la máquina split para tres salidas necesito saber los precios por favor si me pueden llamar soy del estado de New Jersey mi n es 973 4939574

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