In Philadelphia, where temperatures can vary widely through the seasons, combining a heat pump with a furnace to create a dual-fuel system is an efficient way to manage home heating and cooling. Here’s a closer look at how these systems work together to provide energy efficiency and comfort throughout the year.

The Basics of a Dual-Fuel System

A dual-fuel system consists of a heat pump for primary heating and cooling and a furnace for supplemental heating. This setup allows the system to switch between electric and gas heating depending on external temperatures and heating requirements, ensuring efficient operation by using the most appropriate energy source.

Operation of the Heat Pump and Furnace Together

  1. Heat Pump as Primary Heater: The heat pump operates as the primary heating source during milder temperatures. Heat pumps are very effective in temperatures above freezing because they transfer heat from the outside air into your home. Unlike traditional heating systems that generate heat, heat pumps move existing heat, which requires significantly less energy, making it a more efficient option during moderate weather.

  2. Switching to the Furnace: When the temperature drops below the heat pump's efficient operating range (typically around or below freezing), the system automatically switches to the furnace. This switch is usually controlled by a thermostat that detects when the heat pump can no longer heat the home efficiently due to the cold outside air. The furnace then takes over, providing reliable and powerful heating during the coldest parts of the winter.

  3. Energy Efficiency: This switch between the heat pump and furnace is what makes dual-fuel systems particularly energy-efficient. The heat pump uses less energy when conditions allow, which is most of the year in Philadelphia’s climate. The furnace is used only during extreme cold, minimizing gas usage and maintaining energy efficiency.

Advantages of Using a Heat Pump with a Furnace

  • Cost-Effective: Operating the heat pump during milder conditions and only using the furnace during colder temperatures can lead to significant savings on energy bills.
  • Comfort: The system can seamlessly switch between heating methods without any input needed from the homeowner, maintaining a consistent and comfortable indoor temperature.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Reducing reliance on the furnace and utilizing the heat pump more can decrease your home’s carbon footprint, as heat pumps do not emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Installation and Maintenance

  • Professional Installation: It’s important to have both the heat pump and furnace installed by qualified HVAC professionals. In Philadelphia, companies like McCorry Comfort can ensure that both components are properly sized and installed, which is crucial for maximizing efficiency and lifespan.
  • Regular Maintenance: Regular maintenance is key to keeping a dual-fuel system running smoothly. This includes seasonal checks and cleaning to ensure that each component functions effectively together.


For Philadelphia homeowners, pairing a heat pump with a furnace offers a flexible, efficient heating solution that adjusts to varying temperatures and reduces energy consumption. This dual-fuel approach not only ensures optimal comfort and efficiency but also supports environmentally conscious heating practices.