Dual-Fuel System vs Furnace in Boise

February 06, 2019

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If you’re in the market for a new heating system, you may have come across the term “dual-fuel system.”

As a quick refresher, a dual-fuel system is the combination of an electric heat pump with a gas furnace.

When Boise homeowners ask us if we recommend a dual-fuel system or a gas furnace, we generally recommend going with a dual-fuel system because you’ll have greater energy savings over time.

In this article, we’ll explain:

  1. Why a dual-fuel system will likely save you more in the long run
  2. 2 situations when you should go with a furnace (instead of a dual-fuel system)

Need a new furnace or a dual fuel system for your Boise home?

Why a dual-fuel system will likely save you more in the long run

Like we mentioned in the beginning, a dual-fuel system consists of a gas furnace and an electric heat pump. And it’s the heat pump that makes a dual-fuel system more energy-efficient than a standalone furnace.

You see, a heat pump absorbs heat from outside air (like a sponge) and then brings that heat inside to warm up your home. This process differs from a furnace, which creates heat from a fuel source (usually gas in our area).

Because heat pumps move heat rather than create it, they can save you money compared to a standalone furnace.

In fact, Energy.gov says that “heat pumps can provide equivalent space conditioning at as little as one quarter of the cost of operating conventional heating or cooling appliances.”

That said, a heat pump is only energy-efficient when outdoor temperatures are over 40° F. When temperatures drop below 40° F, the heat pump loses efficiency, which is when the gas furnace in a dual-fuel system kicks in to heat your home.

But since outdoor temperatures are within the 40° to 60° F range roughly a third of the year here in Boise (March, April, September and October), you can see some significant savings over time with a dual-fuel system.

Dual-fuel vs furnace: Upfront cost comparison

One source estimates that a dual-fuel system costs about 12% more than a standard AC + gas furnace system.

So, do the long-term savings of a dual-fuel system pay for the 12% price difference?

Most often, yes. According to the same source, you’ll likely pay back that 12% price difference within around 3 years.

Of course, that payback time frame is a really rough estimate. Whether a dual-fuel furnace will save you money in the long run depends on many other factors such as:

  • The upfront cost of your furnace: The more your furnace costs to install, the more money you’ll have to recoup from energy savings.
  • The condition of your home’s ductwork: If you have leaky ducts, you won’t see as much long-term energy savings.
  • The insulation levels of your home: If your home is poorly insulated, you’ll lose conditioned air faster, which will lower your energy savings.
  • The efficiency of the dual-fuel system: If your heat pump has a high HSPF rating and your gas furnace has a high AFUE rating, you’ll have higher energy savings.

Since your long-term savings depend on these complicated factors, the only way to know exactly how much you’ll save long-term is to have a professional inspect your home and provide a rundown of your savings potential.

2 situations when you should go with a furnace (instead of a dual-fuel system)

While dual-fuel systems can be a great option for many Boise homeowners, we don’t recommend a dual-fuel system if…

  1. You only have access to electricity. Adding gas lines can be very expensive, which raises the cost to install a dual-fuel system considerably. Remember: Dual-fuel systems only refer to a heat pump and gas furnace combination, not a heat pump and electric furnace combo.
  1. You are on a tight budget: If you are on tight budget and cannot afford to pay the higher installation cost of a dual-fuel system, just stick to replacing your old/broken furnace with a new one.

Want a quote for a new dual-fuel system or a gas furnace?

We’ll send one of our trusted techs to your home to give you a FREE quote to install a new heating system.


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