November 30, 2023

Is a dual-fuel HVAC system the right choice? | Brand Ave. Studios

4 min read
Is a dual-fuel HVAC system the right choice? | Brand Ave. Studios

Photo provided by Cardinal Heating & Air Conditioning

When Wisconsin winter temperatures dip down low, it’s important to have a reliable home heating system. With all the talk about high-efficiency, cost-effective, low-carbon-footprint energy use today, most people have heard about dual-fuel heating systems. If not, a dual-fuel heat pump is a system that essentially combines a typical electric heat pump with a high-efficiency gas furnace.

Your traditional heating and cooling system consists of a conventional air conditioner and a furnace. A dual-fuel system replaces the traditional AC unit and integrates a heat pump in its place.

While they may cost a bit more upfront to purchase, the energy savings homeowners realize over time — along with other advantages — more than make up for the initial expense. If you’re considering one, here’s what you need to know.

What is a heat pump?

While a heat pump looks and acts exactly the same as your traditional AC, the heat pump is equipped with a reversing valve that allows it to provide cooled air during the warm and hot months as well as warm air during the cooler and even cold months of the year.

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One of the main differences between a gas furnace and an electric heat pump is how the heat is produced. In a typical gas furnace, heat is created using energy. Heat pumps are much more efficient because they merely transfer heat from the outside air to inside your home or vice versa.

You may be asking yourself: How does a heat pump pull heat out of air that’s cold? There is actually latent heat energy in the air outside all the way down to absolute zero, or -459°F, and the refrigerant running through your heat pump system can actually boil at -55° F. This allows the heat pump to pull that heat from the air outside, compress it within the refrigerant to a much warmer temperature and distribute it throughout the home. This may sound great, and it really is. But like most things, a dual-fuel HVAC system has its advantages and disadvantages.

Is a dual-fuel heating system efficient?

High efficiency is one of the biggest advantages of a dual-fuel heat pump. A dual-fuel system combines the best of both electric and gas fueled heating systems. The system automatically chooses the more efficient source of heat based on the outside air temperature. This way, the homeowner gets the benefit of considerable energy cost savings.

Is a dual-fuel heating system cost-effective?

More than 70% of your heating needs can be satisfied by the electric driven heat pump, whose efficiency is extremely high. This highly energy-efficient heat pump saves you considerably on energy costs in the long run. A dual-fuel heating system is estimated to save the average homeowner anywhere between 30% and 50% annually in energy costs. This hybrid heat pump system can pay for itself within three to five years.

Is a dual-fuel heating system better for the environment?

A great way to minimize your carbon footprint, a dual-fuel heat pump is an environmentally friendly way to heat and cool your home. Since this hybrid heat pump system uses the electric heating around 85% of the time, there is no need for gas to constantly fuel your furnace.

Is there more maintenance with a dual-fuel system than with my traditional AC and furnace?

The dual-fuel heat pump system remains in better condition for a longer period since both the electric heat pump and the furnace are combined into one system, which makes their maintenance simpler. Regular maintenance is recommended to keep your HVAC system lasting longer and running more efficiently, no matter what system is being used.

What are some disadvantages of installing a dual-fuel heat pump?

  • Higher up-front cost: The reason is, you’re essentially getting two efficient heating systems in one. But the initial cost may not be much compared to the energy cost savings over a longer period of time.
  • Additional costs: Upgrading to a dual-fuel system from a single system may require some additional costs. To accommodate the electric heat pump and the furnace of the dual system, you might need to upgrade the existing electrical service, wiring or gas lines.

Anything else to know?

Homeowners who install a high-efficiency heat pump may be eligible to receive a standard or income-qualified Focus On Energy rebate by applying online and working with an associated contractor. Through a unique partnership with Wisconsin utility providers, heat-pump-related incentives effective as of Jan. 1, 2022, range from $100 to $1,000 depending on the type of system. To learn more, go to

Cardinal Heating & Air Conditioning is here 24/7 to help

Homeowners in the Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, and surrounding areas trust the Cardinal Heating & Air Conditioning team with all their home HVAC repairs and maintenance needs. They have experienced and knowledgeable techs who will get the job done right the first time. Call today to get help with any questions you may have about your heating system and how you can upgrade today.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 608.389.0808 or visit

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