Proponents of air-source heat pumps (ASHP) or ground-source heat pumps (GSHP) sing praises about the advantages their particular HVAC system has over the other, and there are many of them. In fact, the only thing greater than either of these two is a combination of both. Hybrid heating systems take all the benefits from ASHPs and GSHPs and combine them into one energy-efficient system that can fit the needs of many American homes in any climate zone.
A hybrid system uses air or ground sources for air conditioning and complements it with a propane furnace to fill the gaps where the temperature control for either system doesn’t quite become a comfortable level.
If you’ve been running a full ASHP or GSHP system, hybrid heating systems can be a good alternative. This is particularly true if you live in areas where winter temperatures fall below 40 degrees. One limitation of ASHPs is that their heating component doesn’t measure up to very low temperatures. In days like these, the propane furnace takes over, offering a more energy-efficient heating than the ASHP can handle by itself. Additionally, the same holds true for solo GSHPs and its limitations.
The propane furnace of hybrid heating systems perform with a high AFUE rating (often 90 and above). ASHPs and GSHPs alone are typically already energy-efficient but combined with a high AFUE propane furnace, you can drive energy consumption down to even lower levels, often enough to qualify for incentives and rebates in states where this is available.
Hybrid heating systems can usually pay for itself within two years directly from the savings you make from using it. These savings can total up to $300 a year. Note that initial costs can be a little higher. Replacing an existing ASHP with a hybrid costs up to 12% more than replacing it with a brand new ASHP.
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