Many Philadelphia homeowners might wonder whether they can integrate a heat pump with their existing furnace. The answer is yes, and this combination can offer an efficient, cost-effective, and flexible heating solution. Here's how a heat pump can work in tandem with a furnace to enhance home comfort and energy efficiency.

Dual-Fuel Systems: The Best of Both Worlds

A dual-fuel system, which combines a heat pump with a traditional furnace, capitalizes on the strengths of both units. This system uses the heat pump as the primary heating source. However, when temperatures drop below the heat pump's efficient operating range — typically around freezing in Philadelphia’s variable winter climate — the system automatically switches to the furnace. This ensures optimal efficiency and comfort during colder periods.

How It Works

  1. Efficient Heating and Cooling: During milder weather, the heat pump operates efficiently, providing heating by extracting warmth from the outside air. It also doubles as an air conditioner in the summer, pulling heat from inside the home to cool it.

  2. Automatic Switching: When the outdoor temperature drops to a point where the heat pump is no longer efficient (usually around 32°F or lower), the system automatically switches to the furnace. This switch can be managed by a thermostat that senses temperature changes and selects the most efficient heating mode.

  3. Energy Cost Savings: By utilizing the heat pump for both heating and cooling for the majority of the year, and only depending on the furnace during extreme cold, you can significantly reduce your energy use and lower your utility bills.

Benefits of a Hybrid System

  • Extended Equipment Lifespan: Because the furnace isn’t operating continuously throughout winter, its lifespan may be extended.
  • Reduced Energy Costs: Heat pumps are more energy-efficient than furnaces because they transfer heat rather than burn fuel to create it. By relying mostly on the heat pump, you'll use less natural gas or oil, which can save money and reduce environmental impact.
  • Improved Comfort: This system allows for more precise temperature control throughout the year, adapting to different weather conditions efficiently.

Considerations for Installation

  • Initial Investment: The upfront cost of installing a dual-fuel system can be higher than installing a single furnace or heat pump because it involves purchasing two types of equipment and potentially upgrading the thermostat and ductwork.
  • Professional Installation and Setup: It’s crucial to have your system installed and configured by a qualified HVAC professional to ensure it operates efficiently. A specialist from a service like McCorry Comfort can assess your home’s needs and ensure that both your furnace and heat pump are properly sized and installed.


For Philadelphia residents, combining a heat pump with an existing furnace can be an excellent way to achieve efficient, reliable, and cost-effective heating and cooling. This hybrid approach not only optimizes energy use based on weather conditions but also provides the flexibility to use the most appropriate energy source as needed. Consulting with a professional will help you understand if this system is suitable for your home, ensuring that you get the most out of your heating and cooling system year-round.