Here in Hanover, MD, heat pumps are offering homeowners unprecedented heating efficiency at affordable prices. The one problem heat pumps suffer from is that they lose their efficiency on extremely cold days. Since our area has its fair share of cold days in the winter, this gives plenty of people pause when they weigh the pros and cons of heat pumps. What if, they wonder, their new heat pump can’t provide enough heat to keep their family warm if there’s a cold snap?
It turns out there’s an option that can eliminate those worries. It’s called a hybrid heating system. This system leverages the latest in heating technology to provide ultra-reliable heat and unmatched efficiency in all situations. Here’s everything you need to know about hybrid heating systems and why they’re a great option for Hanover homes.
What’s the Problem With Heat Pumps?
If you’re not aware, heat pumps rely on their ability to extract heat energy from the outside air to heat the interior of the homes they serve. Although that would seem to indicate that they’d be useless on cold days, that’s not the case. Since heat pump technology uses refrigerant as a heat transfer medium, they’re still able to extract heat energy even when the air temperatures drop as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, since they don’t rely on electricity or gas to create heat and instead use electricity simply to move heat from one place to another, they’re extraordinarily efficient. The average heat pump provides a home with four units of heat for every unit of electricity consumed. That’s an astonishing 400% efficiency rate, which is something no other type of heating technology can match.
The problem is that those efficiency levels start to decline as the outdoor temperature dips below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. At the kind of low temperatures we see in the winter here in Hanover, heat pumps can struggle to deliver an adequate heat supply to maintain your desired indoor temperature. For that reason, most heat pumps come equipped with a small auxiliary electric heater to provide a backup heat supply on cold days.
Electric heaters, though, aren’t very efficient. So, those auxiliary heat systems can rob heat pumps of their most attractive features — energy efficiency and low operating costs. That’s where hybrid heating systems come in.
What’s a Hybrid Heating System?
A hybrid heating system is a term used to describe a heat pump that relies on an auxiliary gas-powered furnace for extra heat when needed. It’s a best-of-both-worlds approach that guarantees a reliable heat source for your home even when the temperature drops below the heat pump’s ability to function well.
Unlike heat pumps that come with electric auxiliary heat systems, hybrid heating systems don’t lose anywhere near as much efficiency on cold days. The secret is their use of high-efficiency gas burners. The burners used in hybrid systems feature efficiency rates of 95% or higher, which may be nothing compared to peak heat pump performance, but it still beats the efficiency of electric heat sources by a wide margin.
The other major advantage of hybrid heating systems is that they don’t only switch on their gas burners when the heat pump can’t keep up with demand. They feature sophisticated control mechanisms that can monitor the system’s efficiency at all times. This allows them to turn on their gas burners as soon as the efficiency of the heat pump falls below that of the auxiliary system. In other words, they won’t wait until your home’s desperate for heat. Instead, they’ll switch on the gas burners as soon as the system determines that they’re the more efficient option.
On top of all of those benefits, hybrid heating systems also often feature multi-speed fans, allowing for more precise operations. That further decreases their cost of operations and helps them maintain the highest possible efficiency in all situations.
Does Your Home Need a Hybrid Heating System?
At this point, you may be wondering if a hybrid heating system is a good option for your Hanover home. The answer to that question is a resounding yes. That’s because homes here see an average of three months out of every year when temperatures could reach lows where heat pumps struggle. During especially cold winters, that can translate into 90 days or more when homes with heat pumps in Hanover need auxiliary heat.
With a traditional heat pump, those extra cold days add up to significant heating cost increases. A hybrid system eliminates that problem by leveraging a heating solution that’s close to 100% efficient at its worst. They offer homeowners a way to keep their heating costs low no matter what Mother Nature has in store each winter.
Plus, heat pumps provide air conditioning in the summer, and that includes hybrid systems. During the summer, a heat pump consumes up to 50% less energy than a traditional central air conditioning system. So, they offer excellent efficiency and cost savings all year round. This also allows them to be an even better up-front value since they take the place of a home’s existing heating and cooling solutions.
Are There Downsides to Hybrid Heating Systems?
Even though hybrid heating systems are a close-to-perfect solution, there are some things about them you might consider less than ideal. They require your home to have a connection to a gas supply line, and they cost a bit more up-front than heat pumps or furnace-only heating solutions. These systems also rely on fossil fuels that harm the environment, and they can cost more to maintain due to added system complexity.
It’s worth pointing out that Maryland may be on the verge of prohibiting all new natural gas connections to buildings. The idea was a part of a proposed energy bill late in 2022, and natural gas faces an uncertain future here. That means homes that don’t have an existing natural gas connection may soon lose hybrid heating systems as an option. However, there are hybrid heating systems that can substitute propane or oil as fuel for their operation. They’re not always as cost-effective as natural gas-powered models, though.
Rely on the Hybrid Heating Professionals
At Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating, we believe that hybrid heaters remain a cost-effective, reliable option for homes in Hanover. They give homeowners here the option of embracing heat pump technology without the worry that their system could lead to cold nights or skyrocketing operating costs each winter.
By combining the two most efficient heating options available today, hybrid systems eliminate uncertainty and offer the cheapest possible operating costs, no matter what the winter brings. That’s why we never hesitate to recommend them as an option when we talk to customers about the pros and cons of heat pumps.
Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating is a leader in residential heat pump sales, installation, and service in the Hanover area. We also offer a comprehensive slate of furnace and AC services to help you keep your home’s heating and cooling systems in peak operating condition at all times. Our other services include duct cleaning and installation, indoor air quality solutions, and commercial HVAC services. So, if you’re considering a hybrid heating system to keep you warm for this and many winters to come or you want to set up an appointment for another service, call Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating today!