What is Dual Fuel Heating?

M1200 PS Series SS AC HP bty2-250x260Dual fuel systems can protect you from rising utility costs. They’re more energy efficient, provide greater comfort, and have a smaller carbon footprint.

Relying on a heat pump as the primary heat source here in Virginia can be a real problem. Below 40 degrees or so, most heat pumps switch over to electric resistance secondary heat, which is quite inefficient. The result is a house that doesn’t feel very warm, and big heating bills.

There are two types of heat pumps–air source heat pumps (ASHP) or ground source heat pumps (GSHP).  An ASHP uses a refrigerant system with a compressor and a condenser to absorb heat from the air in one place and release it in another. GSHP units circulate fluid through pipes underground where the temperature is mostly constant.  That fluid is then circulated through a heat exchanger.  Air source systems are more common, so if you have a heat pump, chances are it’s an ASHP.

A dual fuel or hybrid heating system is the combination of a heat pump with a propane or natural gas furnace. With a hybrid system, an efficient propane furnace takes over in colder temperatures, resulting in a more comfortable living space, lower bills, and a smaller carbon footprint.

In a comparative analysis study, research firm Newport Partners found that “propane furnaces operated at energy costs that were competitive with other systems, making them a better overall value in many cases than systems known for their energy savings, such as ground source heat pumps (GSHPs). Propane furnaces also have the measurable environmental benefit of lower carbon emissions from system operation than many other alternatives.” Meaning that even a propane furnace by itself is better than singular GSHP system.

Hybrid heating systems are a good alternative to ASHP-only or GSHP-only systems, especially here in Virginia where our winter temperatures regularly fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter months. At these lower outdoor temperatures, ASHPs will rely more on electric resistance back-up heat. By using the high-efficiency propane furnace to heat the home during colder outdoor temperatures, the hybrid system maintains efficiency, delivers warm air, and reduces electricity costs, which rise sharply with the use of electric resistance back-up.

If you have questions about installing a dual-fuel heating system, contact the Revere office nearest you.  We can help with every step of the process.

Source: Propane Education Research Council