The cold Delaware winter is enough to make anyone without a decent heating system look into an upgrade. But with all the systems on the market, what’s the right choice? If you’re looking to choose between a heat pump, furnace or a hybrid heating system for your Frankford home, use this guide to decide which is right for you.

Gas or Oil Furnaces

fireplace heating room

Gas and oil furnaces are the most common heating systems in Delaware, and they have a number of advantages. Because they produce heat via combustion, a properly-sized unit in good repair will be able to heat your home even when the temperature outside drops well below freezing.

Furnaces, however, aren’t the most efficient method of heating out there. With efficiencies in the mid-80 percentile and some ranging up to around 98 percent for high-efficiency condensing furnaces, all furnaces come with at least a little energy loss. Environmentally-conscious homeowners may not want to burn fossil fuels to heat their homes, which can make the choice between a heat pump, furnace or a hybrid system more complicated.

Heat Pumps

A heat pump doesn’t create heat; it just moves heat energy from one place to another. When it comes to heating your home, this means that a heat pump will pull heat energy out of the outside air and introduce it to your indoor air.

Because a heat pump doesn’t create heat, it can reach surprising efficiencies of up to 300 to 400 percent, meaning that for every unit of energy you put into the system, you can get three or four units out as heat.

But the heat pump does have one serious drawback: the balance point. As the temperature drops, there’s less available heat energy in the air. And as your home cools with the cooling temperature, you need more heat energy to make it comfortable again. (For example, you need more heat energy to bring a 30 degree room up to 72 degrees than you would need in order to bring a 50-degree room up to 72 degrees.) At a certain point, known as the balance point, a heat pump can’t keep up. There’s just not enough heat energy out there to get your home warm.

The balance point of most heat pumps falls around freezing. That means that while it may keep you warm in the spring and fall, a heat pump won’t be sufficient in the depths of winter.

What About a Hybrid System?

Saying that you have to choose between a heat pump, furnace or a hybrid system is a little misleading: in fact, a hybrid system is a way to get the advantages of both a heat pump and a furnace, combined!

With a hybrid system, you’ll have a heat pump keeping you comfortable for most of the year so you can reduce your use of fossil fuels and enjoy high-efficiency heating. But the heat pump is installed with a backup heat so when temperatures drop below the pump’s balance point, the furnace will engage to make up the gap. That means that you can stay warm through the coldest parts of the winter without feeling the year-round impact on your energy bills or pocket book.

A hybrid system may require more upfront investment, but you can see the difference it makes on your monthly energy statements.

To learn more about whether a heat pump, furnace or a hybrid system would work best in your Frankford home, contact us today at Custom Mechanical!

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