What is a Hybrid System?                             

 Most consumers are familiar with the term “hybrid” in reference to cars that

combine electric and gas fuel for better performance. Long before dual-fuel

cars were on the market, a consumer could get a dual-fuel heating and cooling 

 system. A central hybrid comfort system uses gas and electricheat to reduce

heating expenses in the winter while also  keeping your home comfortable. It is

one of the most economical type of system that does not compromise comfort.

 

We service the Edwardsville, Belleville, Collinsville, Granite City, Alton, Bethalto,

 

O'Fallon, Troy, O'Fallon, Caseyville, Glen Carbon, Fairview Heights areas. 

 

What makes a Hybrid System different?

 Since it is a rare task to replace your central heating and cooling system, let's

start with some basic knowledge about a typical set-up. The most common

heating and cooling system set-up is a gas furnace with a coil and an electric

air conditioner. This is a ‘split system', which means the coil is located inside

the home with the furnace and the rest of the cooling component (the AC) is

outside...hence the system is split between locations, giving its name. The air

conditioner uses the furnace's blower to distribute cool air when it's hot outside.

The furnace heats the home with a fossil fuel (i.e. natural gas, propane or oil)

when it's cold outside. The hybrid is different from a typical system because it

provides two heat sources: electric heat and a fossil fuel. In many locations, it

is more economical to heat the home with the electric heat pump, at least until

the outdoor temperature falls below a specific temperature point. Below that

temperature point, the furnace heats the home more economically.

 

How does a Hybrid System work?

 A dual-fuel or "hybrid" system actually uses a heat pump with a gas furnace. The outdoor system is the heat pump, and instead of an air handler, the indoor section uses a gas furnace with a coil. The heat pump is set to heat the home until the outdoor temperature reaches a specific degree. Once below the set outdoor temperature, the system switches to gas heat.

 The contractor simply installs a compatible, programmable thermostat featuring dual fuel mode and an outdoor temperature sensor on the heat pump. The installer or homeowner can enter the “set-point” in the thermostat, which becomes the trigger temperature to change from electric to gas heat. The dealer should be able to provide the most efficient “set-point” based on the system’s capacity, efficiency and regional climate requirements. During heating season, when the outdoor temperature falls below the set temperature for the heat pump, the system will switch over to gas furnace heating.

 

Hybrid Heating Systems are more Comfortable: 

Hybrid heating systems use electric heat pumps during cool weather and furnaces during extreme temperatures. As a heating contractor, I hear plenty about the comfort of each type of heating system.

When it's cooler, people like heat pumps more than furnaces. Heat pumps deliver a consistent ''mellow" heat that most people prefer. Furnaces by contrast, deliver intermittent blasts of hot air during mild weather. Of course, when it gets really cold people prefer furnaces. They enjoy the toasty feeling of the higher temperature air a furnace provides. Because heat pumps deliver lower temperature air than furnaces, heat pumps can feel drafty during extremely cold weather. If it gets cold enough, heat pumps can't keep up with the heating demand. They need a boost from the expensive supplemental resistance heat.

Hybrid heating systems use each type of heating technology where it's most comfortable. When it's chilly, the system operates off electricity and delivers the heat pump's steady, mellow heat. When it's really cold, the hybrid system automatically switches to the gas or oil furnace for its warmer, toasty air.

Hybrid systems offer the ultimate in comfort. Even better, hybrid systems cost less to operate.

 

Hybrid Systems use free Heat: 

It can feel really cold outdoors yet there is still heat in the air. This heat, you can collect, and transfer it to the  inside. That's exactly what an electric heat pump does. It literally pumps free heat from outdoors into your home.

Example; at 17 degrees outside a heat pump can still be 270% efficient compared to a high efficiency furnace at 92%. Although the Heat pump collects free heat, you do have to pay for  the mechanical energy needed to pump the heat inside. It’s a relatively small price. During moderate weather, electric heat pumps are more economical to operate than furnaces. As the temperature drops, a point is reached where the heat pump can no longer keep up with the heating demands economically.

At this "Balance/Break Even Point'' it becomes more economical to use the furnace for heating.

We eliminate the concern over when the furnace should come on. We set the system to switch from heat pump to furnace at a "comfort" balance point, which is a couple degrees above the economic balance point.

Your actual savings vary based on the efficiencies of the heating components selected, this months utility rates (they do seem to go up each month), how you use your system and of course, the weather. A hybrid heating system should save you between 30-50%. With todays skyrocketing energy prices, a 30% savings is nothing to sneeze at. Yet when people ask me why they should consider a hybrid heating system, I tell them that the energy saving along with the environmental benefits are simply bonuses. The reason I recommend hybrid systems is the comfort it provides in the home. Spend one winter with a hybrid heating system and you will never return to conventional heating again! That A/C unit outside your home now does so much more than Cool your home....a comfortable heat at a tremendous savings. And the environmentally responsible thing to do!




Is a Hybrid right for me?

 The key to getting the most economy out of a hybrid is identifying the economic balance point temperature. This is the temperature in which a furnace begins heating the home for fewer costs than the heat pump. A contractor can simply calculate this using the manufacturing heat pump and furnace ratings and local utility costs. A hybrid system is unlikely to be cost effective if the economic balance point is higher than 35° F. 

 If the balance point falls below 35° F, then there is a better chance a hybrid will be the choice system, but only a contractor can determine the true savings vs. investment decision. Factors such as home structure, equipment selection, local utility costs, weather and usage will all play a role in determining the final economic benefit. 

 More than likely, if you already have a furnace and an air conditioner, a hybrid will have a payoff. If you have short summer seasons and reasonable fuel rates, like Alaska, then a hybrid is probably not the right choice. If you have short winters and long summers, like parts of Florida, then a heat pump system to heat the home may still remain the right system economically.

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