When I’m in Davis, it seems like every building is using clean energy. There are solar panels everywhere in that town, especially once you start getting closer to the UC Davis campus—from the Jess Jackson Sustainable Winery to the Segundo and Tercero Dining Commons, as well as throughout the UC Davis West Village Neighborhood.
Last time I was driving home from Davis, I started to think about how environmentally-friendly the folks there are, and I wondered, “Are they working as hard to make their HVAC systems ‘green’ as they are with all those solar panels on the outside of their homes?”
The thing is, there’s more than one way to save energy and money with an environmentally-friendly Davis home. A hybrid electric heat pump and propane furnace can heat a house just as well—if not better—than a furnace powered entirely by natural gas. In fact, it could be the perfect heating mechanism to add to homes ready to participate in the Davis renewable energy craze.
What Exactly Is a Heat Pump?
Think of a heat pump as a guide for the heat in your home, working hard to tell the heat exactly where it needs or doesn’t need to be. Even when the air seems cold, it still has heat in it, and the heat pump is able to extract it. So when it’s cold outside, the heat pump pulls in that air, takes its heat, and puts it into your home, without burning any fuel.
Since a heat pump doesn’t burn fuel, it’s far more energy-efficient than combustible furnaces that create heat through chemical reactions requiring natural gas. So why doesn’t the whole world just use a heat pump then? Well, sometimes the weather is just too cold for a heat pump to extract all the heat it needs to warm an entire house.
Heat pumps work much better in moderate climates. Now, in Davis and the rest of the Sacramento area, winters aren’t usually all that bad, although we do have those rare nights when temperatures get down close to freezing. Whenever the temperature drops below 40 degrees, heat pumps stop working efficiently. So, what do you do to heat your home on those nights? That’s where the propane furnace comes in.
Heat Pump + Propane Furnace = Clean Energy Solution
Combining a heat pump with a propane furnace might just be the clean energy solution that warms your home, keeps your bills low, and is incredibly environmentally-friendly. A propane furnace is, in general, a costly idea. In fact, if you were to use propane full-time instead of other natural gasses, you’d be spending about three times as much on heating cost. But, unlike natural gas furnaces, a propane furnace can easily be combined with a heat pump.
This hybrid way to heat your home is programmable, too, which means you can use your heat pump for common heating needs while setting your propane furnace to only handle those duties when the temperature outside drops below 40 degrees. Basically, on the common 50 and 60-degree days we see in Davis, the heat pump will handle all the heating duties, but the propane furnace will be there as a backup. That way, the moment the temperature dips below 40, it will kick on to compensate for the heat pump’s inability to get the job done in the colder weather.
Is a Hybrid Heat Pump Furnace Right for You
There are many benefits to using a hybrid heat pump furnace, especially in Davis:
- Savings, in the long run: While this hybrid setup is more expensive than a traditional furnace upfront, the long-term savings are huge. A combined heat pump and furnace system will usually pay for itself within three to five years, or faster if the electricity you’re using to power your heat pump is being generated by solar panels, like the ones all over Davis.
- Increased home value: The Davis renewable energy craze is here to stay. It’s also spreading to real estate markets in many other parts of the country. So, with recent construction trends leaning heavily toward environmentally-friendly houses, hybrid heat pump and furnace systems can add quite a bit to the overall value of a home.
- Summer use: Heat pumps, in general, are an environmentally-friendly way to cool your home in the summer. They can be used to take the warmer air out of your house and push it outside, which is a pretty nice feature given Davis’ climate. They simply reverse the flow of the air they’re removing heat from, so, instead of removing heat from outdoor air and putting it into your home, a heat pump can remove the heat from indoor air and pump it out.
The key to determining if a hybrid heat pump and propane furnace is right for you is to know your home and your situation. Our climate is pretty mild, which means most homes in the Davis area are perfect for this kind of solution. A few other things to consider, though, are how long you plan to stay in your home, how high your current heat costs are, and how stable the market for natural gas is.
Whatever your current situation is, an HVAC professional who has experience working with heat pumps and furnaces combinations can help you determine if the time is right for installing a cleaner heating solution. In the right situation, a hybrid heat pump and furnace makes a whole lot of sense. Overall, they’re often a great way to save money, while adding value to a house—and ensuring your HVAC system is environmentally-friendly.
See if your home can benefit from joining the Davis renewable energy boom. Contact the professionals at Bell Brothers today to learn more about hybrid heat pump and propane furnaces.