If you’ve read any research online about air-source heat pumps (ASHP), it’s clear that they work better in climates with milder winters.
According to Energy.gov:
“When outdoor temperatures fall below 40°F, a less-efficient panel of electric resistance coils, similar to those in your toaster, kicks in to provide indoor heating. This is why air-source heat pumps aren’t always very efficient for heating in areas with cold winters.”
Obviously, that’s not Minnesota’s style of winter weather. So you probably shouldn’t get a heat pump from an energy efficiency standpoint, right?
Well, let’s not be so hasty.
More advanced heat pumps with inverter technology, like the Carrier Infinity Series heat pump with Greenspeed Intelligence, are “frigid friendly.” The inverter boosts the ability of the heat pump to pull warmth out of the air, keeping the system pumping heat even in the single digit temperatures.
Also, Energy.gov adds that, “Some units now have gas-fired backup furnaces instead of electric resistance coils, allowing them to operate more efficiently.”
Combining a heat pump with a furnace is what’s called a “dual fuel” system.
Understanding dual fuel systems
Remember when hybrid cars first came out? Everyone could easily see the energy savings potential behind the idea: your car runs on batteries until you get up to a certain speed–that’s when the car would start using fuel to power the car.
It’s the same concept behind a dual fuel system.
The heat pump heats your home in the winter when the temperatures are above 40 degrees or so. But when the temperature drops, your system automatically switches to a second heating source, usually a gas furnace, to heat the home.
You’re essentially getting the efficiency of a heat pump, combined with the reliability of a furnace.
Research shows the effectiveness of dual fuel systems in Minnesota
So this all sounds great in theory, but does it work in practice for Minnesota homeowners?
There was a study done in 2011 to test the effectiveness of dual fuel heat pump systems in Minnesota homes.
Here is a summary of the feedback that the researchers got from the Minnesota homeowners:
“In general, respondents have a positive experience with the overall performance of their hybrid ASHP system, providing an average rating of 4.3 on a five-point scale across all performance dimensions. Seven out of ten respondents would choose the same system if they were choosing again today. Systems receive large majority ‘Excellent’ ratings in categories including comfort, safety, and cooling cost effectiveness.”
So how much money did the Minnesota homeowners save exactly?
The study reports that:
“When asked if they have noticed a difference in their overall heating bill with the new heating system compared to the previous system, 50% of respondents note a significantly lower bill. Reductions in bills range from 10% to 45% over the course of the heating season.”
That’s a pretty large cut. Even though a dual fuel system has a higher upfront cost, you can see how it can easily pay for itself over time.
If you’re interested in that kind of setup and want a free estimate, or just have some questions about it, contact Tonna Mechanical online for help.