Heating System Guides

Consumer Buying Guides to Home Heating and Air Conditioning Systems

Guide to Hybrid Heat Pumps and Hybrid Heating Systems in Homes

high tech thermostat hybridOne of the more popular topics about home heating systems we’re often asked to explain better, is in reference to a specific type of high efficiency home heating system called hybrid heating, which is also known as dual fuel heating, or hybrid heat pump systems. Carrier and Bryant were just two of the first big HVAC equipment manufacturers to offer a hybrid heating system, supported largely by contractors, and many consider them the leader in hybrid heating technology.

The way hybrid heating works, is by replacing the outside central air conditioner condenser with a heat pump condensing unit that both heats and cools the home. When the heat pump is matched to your existing forced air heating system like a gas or oil furnace, it allows a homeowner the flexibility and control to heat their home using the heat pump with their forced air heating system when conditions are optimal for electric heat, and then switch over to the gas or oil heating system, when needed.

Hybrid Heating System Versus Standard Equipment

In most conventional heating systems, you have two separate functions, heating and air conditioning, sharing some of the duties through common components.

Gas or Oil Forced Air Heating SystemsGas or oil heating furnaces are effective down to very cold temperatures, so there is no limit to where they can be installed or how well they will heat your home.

  • Heating – Gas or Oil Furnace, with Heat Exchanger.
  • Below Freezing Supplemental Heat – None needed!
  • Cooling – Outdoor Central Air Condensing Unit, Matched to an Indoor Evaporator Coil.
  • Forced Air – Comes from a blower assembly mounted inside the furnace, and distributed through the home ducts.
  • Controls – Basic Thermostat Control turns unit on and off as needed.

Heat Pump Forced Air Heating SystemHeat pump systems are very efficient, but heat pumps lose the ability to effectively heat your home when the temps drop below 35 degrees outside. When this happens, an electric heating strip lights up (think hair blow dryer) and supplements the heating, which is very inefficient.

  • Heating AND Cooling – Outdoor Heat Pump Condensing Unit, Matched to Indoor Evaporator Coil.
  • Supplemental Heat – Inefficient Electric Heating Coil Strips (Like a big blow dryer)
  • Forced Air – Comes from an Air Handler, Air Blown through Ducts.
  • Controls – Basic Thermostat Control turns unit on and off as needed.

Learn more about heat pumps at the Energy Savers site sponsored by the US Dept of Energy.

Hybrid Heating and Air Conditioning System

In a hybrid heating system, you take the high-efficiency of a heat pump system, and instead of using a basic air handler inside the home, you replace it with a gas or oil furnace heating system. When the outdoor temps drop below 32, instead of the very poor efficiency of the electric heating strips, your high-efficiency furnace takes over, and provides heat to the lowest of outside temperatures.

  • Heating and Cooling – Outdoor Heat Pump Condensing Unit, Matched to Indoor Evaporator Coil.
  • Supplemental Heating – High Efficiency Gas or Oil Furnace Heating Systems
  • Forced Air – Comes from an Air Handler, Air Blown through Ducts.
  • Controls – Advanced Thermostat Control measure both indoor and outside temps, automatically switching your heating source as a set-point, usually 32-35 degrees, as needed.

Cost of Hybrid Heating Versus Conventional

One of the more surprising things a homeowner hears is that the main reason hybrid heating prices are more than conventional home heating systems, is not because of extra work or equipment, it’s because hybrid heating technology is still new and in demand, so heating contractors naturally just charge more for it!

In reality, the only real cost difference is in the outside condensing unit (heat pump, versus ac only) and the thermostat control system, which requires a bit of extra wiring and an added sensor.

Added Hybrid Heating Prices

  • Add – $120-$150, Programmable Dual Fuel Thermostat over Standard.
  • Add – $250-$500, High Efficiency Heat Pump ($2500) versus High Efficiency AC Only ($2000) Unit

Added Installation Requirements of Hybrid Heat Pumps

If you already have a forced air heating and cooling system in your home, and already heat with gas or oil, the only extra item to be installed is going to be the single wire that runs from the thermostat to the outside temp sensor, and the added time the hvac contractor has to take to program the thermostat! Yes, really, that’s about it!

Most higher quality heat pumps already have the sensor built into the board of the unit now, so many times, you won’t even have to do much!

Do You Have a Hybrid Heating System in Your Home?

Share your experience of how much you love or hate your hybrid heat pump system. How much money has it saved you over the life of ownership? Was it much more expensive to have installed over a conventional heating system?

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