Choosing a new heating system for your Baldwin County home can be a tough decision to make, especially with the wide variety of options available. Gas furnaces and air-source heat pumps are two popular options for most homeowners in the Mobile area. Hybrid systems are also gaining popularity thanks to their ability to combine both gas and heat pump-based heating for optimal efficiency. The following takes a look at all three of these options.
When it comes to solid, reliable heating, gas furnaces are the gold standard, so it’s no surprise that many homeowners throughout Baldwin County choose gas furnaces as their primary heating system. Furnaces offer an affordable, reliable source of heat, regardless of outdoor conditions.
Gas-powered furnaces can also be surprisingly efficient for heating systems reliant on combustible fuels. Most furnaces offer annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 90 percent or higher, meaning that at least 90 percent of the fuel used by a gas furnace is effectively converted into usable heat.
Many modern furnaces offer a 98 percent AFUE thanks to a variety of advanced features, including electronic ignition, secondary heat exchangers for condensing flue gases, and burners that work in concert with variable speed blowers to modulate heat delivery, thus preventing cold spots and eliminating the energy-robbing on/off cycle.
Air-Source Heat Pumps
An air-source heat pump is a unique type of heating system that operates a bit differently from the standard furnace. Instead of burning natural gas, oil or other fossil fuels to generate heat, heat pumps rely on the same basic principles that make air conditioning work, but in reverse.
Whereas a typical air conditioner is designed to extract heat from indoor air and expel it outdoors, a heat pump extracts the latent heat found in outside air and transfers it indoors. Even at temperatures just above freezing, a heat pump effectively and efficiently generates and distributes comfortable heat throughout your home.
Heat pumps are surprisingly energy efficient and economical to operate, with the typical heat pump being as much as 40 percent more efficient than a comparable gas-fired heating system.
In addition to having a heating system, you also have your air conditioning in the same unit. Tackling the summer heat is as simple as readjusting the thermostat. Once the heat pump switches to cooling mode, you can enjoy cool and comfortable temperatures in your home all summer long.
The Best of Both Worlds
Air-source heat pumps offer extraordinary efficiency until the point where outdoor temperatures drop below freezing. Gas furnaces offer reliable heat no matter the circumstances, but they lack the sheer efficiency of its heat pump counterpart. So why not combine them?
That’s exactly what a hybrid heating system does. Hybrid systems are designed to offer the best traits of both heat pumps and gas furnaces by combining the two within a single, unified package. These dual-purpose systems offer smart technology that allows an effortless transition between gas heat and heat pump operation according to weather demands.
For instance, a hybrid system can seamlessly transition to gas heat whenever outdoor temperatures fall below freezing, giving your home reliable heat under harsh weather conditions. When the mercury climbs above freezing temperatures, the hybrid system transitions back to heat pump operation.
Which Should You Choose?
All three heating options have their compelling attributes, but your final decision will likely depend on your immediate and long-term home needs. For new homes and renovations, a heat pump can make the most economic sense. You’ll save hundreds of dollars each year in heating costs when compared to other forms of heating, plus you’ll also have air conditioning available throughout the summer months.
If you already have a central air conditioning system and want to keep it around a while longer, choosing a gas furnace is a more economical solution than replacing the existing A/C with a heat pump. If you want to enjoy the benefits of both heating systems, investing in a hybrid heating system is your best bet. It’ll also help you avoid the problems faced by heat pumps during an unexpected cold snap, since you can rely on gas heat as a backup.
When it comes to choosing your next heating system, you can count on the pros at Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. to lend a helping hand. Contact us for all your installation and service needs throughout Mobile and Baldwin County.