Harmony Of Efficiency: How Heat Pumps Work With Furnaces

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By Debarghya Roy


Are you looking for a more energy-efficient way to keep your home comfortable? Heat pumps and furnaces are becoming increasingly popular as homeowners look for ways to save on their utility bills.

how does a heat pump work with a furnace

In this blog, we’ll discuss how heat pumps work with furnaces, the types of compatible furnaces and heat pumps, the benefits of combining these two systems, and how they can optimize energy savings in various climates.

Key Takeaways

  1. A heat pump and furnace combination provide more efficient heating options than traditional gas furnaces while costing less.
  2. Heat pumps are energy-efficient devices. That moves existing heat from outside air into homes using refrigerant cycles, resulting in up to 50% less electricity used for heating than electric resistance alternatives such as furnaces and baseboard heaters.
  3. Dual fuel systems use a traditional gas or oil-fueled furnace and an electric heat pump to maximize efficiency in different temperatures by switching between sources based on outdoor conditions.
  4. Gas, propane, oil, and electric models can all be compatible with various types of heat pumps depending on location climate needs; this helps optimize energy savings over time for the homeowner!

How Heat Pumps Work

Heat pumps use a small amount of energy to move heat from one location to another. They extract natural heat from sources such as outside air, geothermal energy stored in the ground, and nearby sources of water or waste heat from factories.

The refrigeration cycle involves four main components: an evaporator, compressor, condenser, and expansion valve. The evaporator takes in outside air through intake louvres on the sides outdoor unit before passing it over refrigerant coils that absorb the surrounding thermal energy.

This warmed gas then passes through a compressor, pressuring it so that more substantial amounts can be carried away and raised further in temperature. While carrying out its cooling operation, along with vaporizing any liquid created in the condensing process, before returning outdoors, service system valves are added to provide pump controls, accounting for cost efficiency, stability, humidity levels, and other dependencies such as climate, humidity, etc. 

Being added variables, precautions are taken to identify areas of concern. Adjustable speeds are aimed at additional saving and enhancement processes involved within the build-up. A couple of internal tensional tubes hold high molecules normally during winter temperatures, ranging commonly to 10 degrees, sometimes lower. 

On the opposite side, average summer results in the built-in extra safety device point to notice, monitor, and adjust many environmental room averages. Widely investing in company professionals who are able and knowledgeable in installing, repairing, performance operations management, precise regulation, warranties, conditions isolation, sealing, latest updates, and creating potential problems in the future. 

Ensuring it is working appropriately isn’t an issue and helps the investment stand better for extended periods, needing more repairs and maintenance projects’ completion. A rule followed to determine success productivity means standards can justify replacing worn parts at specific intervals to extend lifespan.

 Elsewhere, obtaining the results desired comes with spendy expectations. At this stage, selecting appropriate products best suited to the home’s needs, including applicable laws and regulations, remains covered depending on the severity of the issues.

How Furnaces Work

Furnaces are heating system that relies on burning fuel to produce heat by converting the stored chemical energy into thermal energy. A furnace comprises several components, including burners, heat exchangers, flue pipes and a combustion chamber.

  • The role of the burners is to mix air with fuel to facilitate the combustion process, releasing energy and generating heat that is then transferred through channels throughout the home’s ductwork.
  • Heat exchangers act as a vehicle for transferring this hot air produced from combustion into other areas via heated gas or liquid stream; this also serves for cooling after it has been used.

The furnace’s output level is determined and adjusted based on activities like opening/closing doors or windows within its vicinity, which could potentially cause fluctuations across internal settings like pressure etc. controls can help maintain an optimum performance depending upon one setup’s context-specific requirements so they must be tuned accordingly if needed.

However, these are only sometimes necessary since most systems today come pre-installed with temperature controller settings suitable enough for everyday use subject to varying geographical climate conditions designed appropriately when manufactured per model specifications released publicly at point-of-sale.

Furnaces run off different fuels like coal, wood pellet pellets or oil, although commonly powered mainly by natural gas nowadays, due to higher efficiency rates from combusting cleaner elements versus slightly noisier conventional alternatives prone to producing smokey conditions inside residences.

Why Use A Heat Pump With A Furnace?

A heat pump and furnace combination provide cheaper heating options than traditional gas furnaces without sacrificing comfort.

Increased Efficiency

  • Heat pumps are considered more efficient heating systems than furnaces because they use less energy to provide the same heat
  • Heat pumps move heat instead of generating it, transferring existing heat from outside into homes, which requires much less energy than is required to generate (or “burn”) fuel for a furnace or boiler system.
  • Using a dual fuel system can also maximize efficiency; this hybrid model allows a furnace and a high-efficiency heat pump to work together based on outdoor temperature conditions to use the most efficient energy source at any given time.
  • As temperatures rise with the approach of warmer weather, the thermostat will sense this change in moisture levels and adjust itself accordingly to keep its interior cool through heat exchange via refrigerant cycles.
  • This enhances indoor air quality while reducing overall energy expenses compared to traditional home heating solutions such as forced air or oil furnaces.

Dual Fuel System

A dual fuel system is an energy-efficient option for home heating, as it combines a gas furnace and electric heat pump to deliver the most cost-effective and efficient heating performance.

This hybrid configuration utilizes the furnace during colder temperatures, while the heat pump can be active in milder climates. Depending on the outdoor air temperature, the control system will automatically switch between these two sources. This helps optimize efficiency at different times of the year and reduces energy costs for homeowners over time.

Technology advancements regarding refrigerant technology have provided improved performance from electric heat pumps that are capable of producing more significant amounts of cooling/heating than ever before without having to rely solely on liquid or gas fuels as primary energy sources.

Heat pumps transfer heat from outside air into homes when used outdoors, making this system especially beneficial in warmer regions where humidity levels remain low throughout the year.

Types Of Furnaces Compatible With Heat Pumps

Heat pumps work with a variety of furnaces, including gas, propane, oil, and electric models.

Gas Furnaces

Gas furnaces are an efficient and popular way to heat homes. These heating systems use combustion or burning of fuel (such as natural gas, propane or oil) to generate heat energy which is then circulated throughout the home using fans.

Gas furnaces typically use two stages to operate efficiently while providing consistent warmth in all home areas: low-heat mode uses only one stage of operation during milder weather conditions. In contrast, high-heat mode uses both stages for lower temperatures.

The ability to switch between these modes helps optimize energy savings and can provide supplemental heat when needed.

Propane Furnaces

Propane furnaces are an efficient and effective type of fuel-powered heating system. Unlike other furnace types, such as natural gas or electric models, propane furnaces use the stored energy in liquid propane (LP) to create heat.

The LP is ignited in a user-regulated burner and then pulled through a series of chambers that extract heat from its combustion before exiting the structure via exhaust vents.

The high-efficiency rating associated with a properly working propane furnace makes it ideal for those looking to save money on their utility bills over time while simultaneously increasing their home comfort level during winter months. They can have an AFUE rating of up to 85%.

Modern versions can even convert close to 100% into indoor heating, making them particularly cost-effective compared to other combustion-based alternatives like oil furnaces or natural gas solutions, where significant portions go directly outside as waste.

Oil Furnaces

Oil furnaces are home heating systems that burn fuel for warmth in colder climates. They work similarly to gas and electric models as a forced-air style furnace.

One advantage of burning oil instead is its relatively low cost per unit compared to other options like natural gas or propane.

Oil furnaces tend to produce more soot with their exhaust than clean-burning natural gas or propane models due, which demands maintenance and regular filter changes if you want the system to perform correctly and hygiene levels maintained over time.

Despite this potential issue, however, they are still primarily considered reliable, efficient heat sources; especially when used alongside Geothermal Heat Pumps or air source pumps as part of hybrid heating systems configurations where long-term energy savings may add up quickly enough to make them worthwhile investments for many homes & businesses regardless of geography/climate zones.

Electric Furnaces

Electric furnaces are highly efficient and cost-effective, making them attractive for heat pump-furnace combinations. The main benefit of using an electric furnace is that the fuel source electricity is clean and produces no airborne pollutants like natural gas, propane, or oil.

Electric furnaces use electricity to run their blower motors and an electrical resistance element to generate heat. Because they don’t utilize fossil fuels, they can be an excellent choice in air-quality areas where wood-burning fireplaces aren’t allowed or fossil fuel emissions must be kept low.

On the downside, electric furnaces are less durable than their combustion-based counterparts due to wear and tear on components over time or problems caused by severe storms in specific geographic locations where power outages occur frequently.

Types Of Heat Pumps Compatible With Furnaces

Air-source and ground-source heat pumps are the two main types of heat pumps that can be used in combination with furnaces to provide cost efficient heating.

Air-Source Heat Pumps

Air-source heat pumps are electrical units that use the principles of refrigeration to transfer heat energy between indoor and outdoor environments efficiently.

  • Heat pumps extract heat from one source, such as ambient air or the ground, and transfer it to another area via a compressor, expanding valve and heat exchanger.
  • Heat pumps are much more efficient than traditional HVAC systems due to their capacity for reverse operation; they can both absorb and emit thermal energy depending on the weather conditions outside.
  • Furthermore, their ability to extract relatively low-grade heat sources makes them significantly cheaper than other fuel-based heating options.

Ground-Source Heat Pumps

Ground-Source Heat Pumps are a great way to heat and cool your home efficiently. These heat pumps feature piping loops or coils buried under the ground, enabling them to capture heat energy from the earth and transfer it into homes, making these systems ideal in colder climates with milder winters.

The design of the Ground Source Heat Pump reduces reliance on traditional heating sources such as furnaces. It allows for efficient usage at lower temperatures since they don’t have to generate as much power to maintain a comfortable temperature indoors.

In addition, they use less electricity than air-source units, providing homeowners with cost savings compared to other systems in some circumstances. But installing a ground-source system can be expensive due to its complexity. It may require more space than different types of HVAC systems, something for homeowners to consider before deciding if this solution is right for them.

How A Heat Pump And Furnace Work Together

When a heat pump is used with a furnace, the heat pump acts as the primary heating source, and the stove provides supplemental heat during periods of cold weather or high demand.

Heat Pump As Primary Heat Source

Heat pumps are an increasingly popular solution for providing comfortable, efficient home heating and cooling. Heat pumps absorb heat energy from the outside air and transfer it indoors, even during cold temperatures.

This makes them much more energy-efficient than traditional furnaces, making them a great option as a primary heat source in an HVAC system.

Three types of heat pumps are available: air-source, water-source, and geothermal. An air-source model extracts thermal energy from outdoor air, while a water source is ideal when there’s access to open bodies of warm water like rivers or lakes.

Geothermal systems utilize energy from the earth’s constant temperature; they provide consistent heating even at lower temperatures. However, they require additional construction work as underground piping must circulate liquid between the planet and the home.

For homes looking to optimize their HVAC system’s efficiency, combining two different setups, such as using an electric heat pump and gas furnace for Supplemental Heating (dual fuel system), can often be beneficial.

Furnace As Backup Heat Source

Heat pumps collect heat from the air, ground, or water and transfer it into an indoor environment. While heat pumps are highly energy-efficient in milder weather conditions, they can sometimes be insufficient for heating during extreme cold periods.

This is why a furnace can be a backup heat source for a heat pump system. Furnaces burn fuel such as natural gas or propane to generate hot air pumped through your home through ducts or vents.

A dual fuel system focuses on using the most efficient energy source depending on the temperature outside the electric pump when possible and switching to the furnace only when necessary.

In this way, integrating a furnace with your existing pump allows you to get more out of what you already have installed and ensures that there’s still warmth inside if any issue arises with your central heating system.

The downside is that you will need additional space if installation requires larger piping than typically connecting two units side-by-side; however, adequately engineered hybrid configurations using different sizes of condenser coils, if available, can solve this problem while optimizing efficiency.

Adding A Furnace To A Heat Pump: Is It Possible?

It is possible to install a furnace in combination with a heat pump, and this can provide homeowners with increased energy savings and greater control over the heating system.

Considerations Before Installation

A heat pump and furnace combination can offer increased efficiency, dual fuel systems, and significant savings over other heating options. However, proper sizing and installation are vital when considering a hybrid system; otherwise, the result can be an inefficient or even dangerous system

Homeowners should be aware of factors such as the climate in the area, home layout & size, existing ductwork setup, cooling requirements & energy bills before they decide on installing a heat pump-furnace combination.

Incorrect sizing of either component of this hybrid heating system can cause issues, including outdoor fan cycling leading to higher electricity consumption and excessive humidity levels in some cases. 

Additionally, incorrect installation could risk electric shock because of faulty wiring that involves direct current electricity across multiple circuits, which may require professional expertise to diagnose any potential underlying issue.

To ensure optimal operation for their new heat pump-furnace combo:

  1. Homeowners should always use experienced HVAC professionals who specialize in heat pumps and have experience with correct installation procedures.
  2. A load calculation involving indoor air temperature and external weather conditions needs to be considered for any equation related to sizing.
  3. Plans should account for any additional components like thermostats or control systems required by specific configurations
  4. The benefits will only become apparent if all components are properly sealed while being connected using compatible materials so that moisture condensation is prevented from forming in wall cavities or ceilings where it could lead to mould growth inside the home due to excessive Humidity levels indoors during winter months.

HVAC Professional’s Advice

A dual-fuel system installation using a heat pump and furnace must be done correctly to ensure optimal performance and energy efficiency.

This is why hiring an HVAC professional for the job is essential. A qualified technician can advise on the best type of heat pump, furnace, and control system to maximize energy savings while fitting your specific needs.

They’ll also be able to assess whether any special considerations or modifications may need to be made during the installation process due to geographical factors such as milder weather or environmental regulations.

During the assessment phase, they can optimize the configuration of your hybrid heating system based on what’s available in terms of building layout, size requirements, ductwork installations, etc., ensuring that all components are working together seamlessly.

Heat Pump Without A Furnace: Is It Feasible?

While using a heat pump without a furnace is possible, there may be more cost-effective options than this setup, as milder regions may experience insufficient heating.

Geographical Considerations

Investing in a heat pump greatly depends on your home’s location and the climate conditions you likely experience. Heat pumps are an efficient type of HVAC system typically used as a primary heating source capable of cooling and heating.

But since they depend on transferring heat from outside, they need more efficiency in freezing climates or areas with regular sub-zero temperatures.

This can be particularly troublesome for homes that require all-electric systems, which means the owner may have to rely mainly on electric baseboards or space heater units to keep their property warm during colder weather.

However, when milder temperatures are encountered more frequently, such as year-round cooler climates, investing in a heat pump without an accompanying furnace is often feasible due to its cost-effectiveness and energy-saving capabilities compared with other conventional heating systems like gas furnaces that burn fossil fuels.

Types Of Heat Pump Systems

Heat pump systems are electric appliances that transfer heat outdoors to indoors. Three main types of heat pumps are connected by ducts: air-to-air, water source, and geothermal.

Air-to-Air Heat Pumps: Air-to-air heat pumps absorb the air from outside, which is more relaxed and use a compressor to pressurize refrigerant for circulation inside the home. After collecting the warm air, it distributes it inside, creating a friendly indoor environment. Air-to-air heat pumps are economical and easy to maintain. However, they could be better in colder climates as temperatures can reach too low.

Water Source Heat Pumps: Water source heat pumps use water circulating through buried pipes to absorb or dump excess heat energy indoors or out instead of using outside air as an exchange medium. These systems also have a compressor running on electricity like air source systems do but often with a higher cop (coefficient of performance). This type of pump requires fewer modifications to existing infrastructure and can more efficiently integrate into existing building layouts. The downside is that they require municipal permits for installation, which adds additional costs, and estimates can vary widely depending on the specifics of the layout chosen.

Geothermal Heat Pumps: Geothermal or ground source heat pumps transfer heat energy from reservoirs or vaults deep beneath the earth’s surface, where temperatures remain relatively constant throughout all seasons. Some estimates suggest that these systems may provide over 300% efficiency compared with standard electric heating systems alone, making them attractive for prominent installations such as large commercial buildings or industrial operations. However, due to their complexity, these systems typically cost significantly more upfront than any other heating system available today, making them less accessible for smaller applications such as single-family homes.

Heat Pumps And Forced Air Furnaces: A Perfect Match?

A heat pump and a forced air furnace are an ideal combination for efficient and effective heating as they can be used to take advantage of milder weather.

Compatibility And Energy Savings

Combining a heat pump and furnace in a dual fuel system makes it possible to take advantage of the strengths of both approaches while still enjoying the flexibility of choosing which source is used most efficiently.

When outdoor temperatures stay consistently above freezing in milder weather, air-source heat pumps provide efficient heating as they transfer trapped heat from outdoor air into your home’s interior.

During extended periods of extreme cold or where natural gas prices may be higher than electricity costs, you can opt for a more traditional supplemental heat option, such as propane and gas furnaces.

Using a hybrid heating system with both electric and gas operation allows homeowners to optimize energy savings by automatically switching between the two sources depending on current conditions for maximum efficiency, which isn’t possible without both components.

Research has shown that households using this kind of system often cut their total annual energy use by 40%-50%.


1. How does a heat pump work with a furnace?

A heat pump works with a furnace to provide an efficient and cost effective way of heating your home. It uses electricity to move refrigerant between the outdoors and indoors, using the outdoor air temperature to absorb or release energy from within your home depending on if it is warming up or cooling down the inside air respectively.

2. What are the benefits of having a heat pump with my furnace?

Having a Heat Pump alongside your Furnace offers numerous advantages including lower energy bills, improved comfort levels within your home, increased efficiency in utilizing available resources as well as being an environmentally friendly option when compared to traditional fossil fuel sources such used for combustion systems.

3. Are there any drawbacks associated with my combined system?

At times during extreme cold weather conditions, combined Heat Pump/Furnace systems may not be able to effectively maintain temperatures due relatively low capacities only applicable under limited circumstances compared other alternative solutions capable of providing more robust capabilities in various temperatures ranges found throughout each season over multiple regions – ultimately resulting in potential performance issues at certain points year round which should always be kept mind prior making purchasing decisions based purely upon initial cost without taking into account overall usage scenarios . .

4. What steps can I take ensure optimal output from my combined system?

The first step towards optimizing results from this type of system would involve connecting with specialist technicians experienced installing & servicing equipment designed especially these specific purposes while also finding ways keep maintenance costs lower by adhering proper scheduling recommendations based upon manufacturer standards throughout its lifetime so long-term resiliency preserved since key aspects becoming successful will depend heavily how meticulous users remain following recommended protocols otherwise breakdowns failures could occur near future potentially leading further risks safety thereby damaging investment instead – reducing value over time unnecessary expenses incurred because skimping elsewhere order cut corners financially instead


Using a heat pump with a furnace is an efficient and cost-effective way to heat your home. Heat pumps extract heat from outside air or other energy sources, providing comfortable warmth at lower costs than gas furnaces.

In addition, many types of furnaces are compatible with different kinds of heat pumps, making it possible for anyone to take advantage of the benefits of using this system.

Considering all factors before installing a hybrid heating system ensures you get the most out of your investment. For example, geographic location can impact potential savings when combining heat pumps and furnaces, as one source may be more suitable during certain climates. At the same time, another is better saved as supplemental heating in milder weather.

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