Dual Fuel HVAC 101: The Basics of Hybrid Heating and Cooling Systems

Dual Fuel HVAC systems
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If you’re on the hunt for energy-efficient home heating and cooling solutions you might have heard about a dual fuel system and are asking, what the heck is that?! A dual fuel HVAC system could be your ticket to lower energy bills and improved comfort, but understanding the system and its benefits can feel like trying to decode another language. We get it, it is one of the most common questions we get here at Bellows!

What is a Dual Fuel HVAC System?

As the name suggests, a dual fuel hvac system utilizes two types of energy sources to heat and cool your home efficiently: an electric heat pump and a gas furnace. A dual fuel heat pump works in conjunction with a furnace.

During the Summer months, the heat pump works like a high efficiency central air conditioner. In mild Spring and Fall weather, it provides cost effective and efficient heat. The as the temperatures drops in the Winter months, the pump shuts off and lets your gas furnace take over.

This is a heat pump sitting on top of grass
Lennox Dual Fuel Heat Pump

You might be wondering, why not stick with either an all-electric or all-gas systems? The answer lies in efficiency; dual fuel systems offer superior performance because they can switch between using electricity or natural gas depending on which source is most efficient given current weather conditions.

A dual fuel HVAC system marries the best features of both worlds by providing reliable cooling via its electric heat pump during the Summer and mild weather months, while leveraging robust heating capabilities in the Winter with a gas furnace. Gas is usually only used when it is really cold and the electric heat cannot keep up.

In more temperate regions in California, there is a possibility you will never need to use the gas furnace function even in Winter months.

Efficiency and Cost Benefits of a Dual Fuel System

Because a dual fuel HVAC system is up to 30% more efficient than a traditional system, it is an energy-saving solution that can help you cut costs on your monthly bills. Dual fuel doesn’t just heat or cool your home; it does so in a way that maximizes comfort.

There are also a number of government backed rebates for customers willing to switch to dual fuel. So if you’re looking for an upgrade that brings along both financial savings and improved living conditions, consider investing in a dual-fuel HVAC unit.

How Exactly Does a Dual Fuel HVAC System Work?

As long as the temperature outside is above 35°F or so, a heat pump can pull heat from the outside air for less than it costs to fire up the furnace. The furnace kicks in for only the coldest months.

Heat pumps save energy because transferring heat is easier than making it. Surprisingly, even when it feels cold outside, there is still a decent amount of heat waiting to be pumped.

Under ideal conditions, a heat pump can transfer 300% more energy than it consumes. In contrast, a high-efficiency gas furnace is about 90% efficient.

During cooler seasons like Fall and Spring, the heat pump handles the heating duties. The dual-fuel system still incorporates the furnace, but without using any burners, just its air distribution features (think like an air handler).

The heat pump sends hot “refrigerant” through the air-conditioning coil within the furnace. The furnace fan draws air from the home’s cold-air returns and blows that air over the warm coil and then sends the warmed air throughout the house.

In the Summer, the heat pump reverses the refrigerant flow so cold, liquid flows over the coil and cools your home, just like a conventional air conditioner.

Maintenance for a Dual Fuel HVAC

Just like any other home system, your dual fuel heat pump and gas furnace needs regular maintenance to perform at its best. Your first line of defense is regular professional inspections at least once a year and to always change your filters at least two times a year!

That said, if you are using your system a lot we recommend replacing or cleaning filters every month during high-use seasons.

Is a Dual Fuel Heating and Cooling System Right for You?

We’ve explored what a dual fuel HVAC system is, an energy-efficient combo of electric heat pump and gas furnace.

We’ve talked about its benefits like greater efficiency, lower bills, improved comfort, and better air quality, as well as talked about how it works with smart switching between cooling in Summer to heating in Winter. This knowledge should provide you the ability to make a smart choice when considering dual fuel for your Bay Area home.

If you’re ready to explore the possibility of a dual fuel HVAC system or need professional help maintaining one already installed, please call Bellows!

Our team provides top-notch service for all residential and light commercial properties across Marin County, Sonoma County, Santa Clara County, Monterey County, San Mateo County, and Santa Cruz County.

Whether it’s servicing or replacing your current dual fuel system or any of your other HVAC, plumbing, or electrical systems, we’ve got you covered!

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