What's A Hybrid Heating System, Anyways?

3 February 2017
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There are so many different types of home heating systems that it can be hard to keep them straight or choose between them. You probably know what a furnace is and what a boiler is, and you may have even heard of a heat pump. But when your HVAC contractor recommends a hybrid heating system, things aren't so clear! Read on to learn more about this lesser-known type of heating system, the benefits it offers, and the instances in which it works well for homeowners.

What types of systems does a hybrid heating system combine?

A hybrid is a cross between two types. When it comes to heating systems, hybrid heating systems are those that combine a heat pump with another, backup heat-generating system. Some hybrid systems combine a heat pump with an electric heater. Others combine a heat pump with a propane furnace or a natural gas furnace.

When does a hybrid system work well?

Hybrid heating systems are typically recommended in areas where a heat pump can usually, but not always, heat a home sufficiently. For instance, if your normal winter temperature is around 45 degrees F, then on most days, the heat pump will be able to keep your home sufficiently warm. But on those occasional super-cold days when the temperature plummets to 20, the other hea- generating element (whether it be electric, propane, or gas) will kick on to help keep your home's temperature up.

Some homeowners in areas with colder winters (such as where the temperature is regularly 20 or below) also opt for hybrid heating systems. The system still keeps the home warm—but the alternative heating source will kick on more often.

What are the benefits of choosing a hybrid heating system?

Running a heat pump is almost always far more energy efficient than running an electric heater or fuel-burning furnace. This is because heat pumps just move heat from the outside to the inside rather than actually generating the heat. So, if you choose a hybrid system over a standard furnace, your energy bills will be lower. Plus, with the hybrid system, you don't have to worry about your home getting chilly on super-cold days as you would if you were to only install a heat pump.

In general, the colder your climate, the less you'll save by opting for a hybrid system. This is because in colder climates, the fuel-burning heater will kick on more often, and the heat pump won't get as much use. If you're not sure whether a heat pump is a cost-effective choice in your area, speak with a local heating contractor.