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Can You Add a Heat Pump to an Existing Furnace?

Today, one of the most advanced methods of modern heating is the heat pump. By making use of electricity to transfer heat from place to place, heat pumps can dramatically reduce a home’s energy usage while still keeping it comfortable during the cold winter months. Even better, your heat pump can also double as an air conditioner during the summer, as it’s also able to transfer heat outside of the home, cooling it down.

You can install a heat pump directly, which is often all a home needs to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the year. But can you add a heat pump to an existing furnace?

Let’s talk about it.

What Is a Heat Pump?

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As we’ve mentioned above, heat pumps utilize electricity for heat transfer. It does this by employing a technology very similar to what is used in a refrigerator: coils full of a refrigerant chemical are able to absorb heat energy directly from the environment. This cools the air down while allowing the heat energy to be transferred elsewhere. To heat the home, this energy is released inside. To cool the home, it is dissipated into the outside environment. This method is extremely efficient, saving a great deal on energy costs.

There are several types of heat pumps that you can opt for. The majority of them simply use outdoor air to collect heat, and they may utilize your duct system, just as traditional heating methods do. Mini-split heat pumps, also known as ductless heat pumps, on the other hand, transfer warm air directly into the home. These are excellent because they can be used to heat individual rooms, which is often a great deal cheaper than heating the entire house whether or not all the rooms are occupied at any one time.

Heat pumps can also operate without using outdoor air. Some other advanced ones, such as geothermal heat pumps, actually get their heat from underground. This renders them less vulnerable to the outdoor climate on a given day. Other heat pumps tend to be less effective when it gets extremely cold, which is why you might ask the question, can you add a heat pump to an existing furnace?

Connecting Your Heat Pump to a Furnace

Most of the time, you won’t even need a furnace if you have one of the heat pump types we’ve mentioned above. A standard or mini-split heat pump can do the job just as effectively as any other method of heating the home, while using significantly less energy. This is because the heat pump doesn’t have to generate the heat, just move it. This means no furnace or expensive fuels are required.

Some homeowners, however, may choose not to do away with their furnaces entirely. They may wish to have a backup in case their heat pump experiences technical difficulties, or they may need a furnace to generate some extra heat if the temperature outside dips to well below freezing. It’s possible that the condenser in a heat pump can become frozen over, dramatically reducing the effectiveness of this otherwise extremely advanced piece of technology.

Heat pumps don’t take up a great deal of room, so they’re fairly easy to connect to the same system of ductwork that your furnace uses in most cases. This is significantly less expensive than the huge project of installing a new system of ducts, so you should opt to do it if possible. If you are utilizing a mini-split heat pump, you will not need to use the ductwork at all, but if you are keeping your furnace, you will still need to regularly clean and maintain your ducts.

Hybrid Heat Pumps

Another option you can consider is a hybrid system. Much like a hybrid car, this method makes use of a high-efficiency electric heat pump and a traditional fuel-burning system, which work in tandem with each other to maximize both effectiveness and fuel efficiency. While you may be in search of an answer to the question, can you add a heat pump to an existing furnace, a better option may be to look for an entirely new system that combines heat pump technology with the power of traditional fuel-burning furnaces.

One major benefit of utilizing a hybrid heat pump is that you can set it to switch over automatically, rather than having to do so manually. In other words, you can set your system to switch to fuel-burning heat when the temperature drops to a certain level. For example, if your heat pump seems to struggle when the temperature drops below zero, you can set your hybrid heat pump to switch to fuel as soon as the outdoor temperature drops to negative one degree. If the temperature goes back up, the system can then automatically switch back to the heat pump, maximizing its efficiency while still keeping your home nice and warm.

Who to Talk to About Installation

Before making any decisions about heat pumps, you should contact the HVAC professionals at Entek and ask them to perform an assessment for you. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action with regard to the size of your home as well as its existing infrastructure. They can help you to decide if you should keep your heating system as it is, add a heat pump to your existing furnace, or opt for a hybrid model. They will discuss with you your particular needs as well as what system will be expected to work best for the climate in your area.

Once you’ve made a decision, the HVAC professionals at Entek will be able to install your heat pump for you, connect it to your existing furnace, or simply maintain your old system. They will also be able to provide regular maintenance to ensure that your heat pump remains in excellent condition and runs efficiently for many years to come.


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