When we bought our house, it was already outfitted with a forced air furnace. The heating system was nearly brand new and in good condition. Our only complaint was the lack of air conditioning. Although the cold weather is the priority in our local area, the summers can be hot and humid. We didn’t want to struggle with window cooling units and box fans. I started looking into the different makes and models of central air conditioners and came across electric heat pumps. Although heat pumps cost more than air conditioners, they provide exceptional energy efficiency and dehumidification. They also offer both heating and cooling capability. Combining an electric heat pump with a gas furnace is called a dual fuel or hybrid heating system. The heat pump saves enough money on heating bills to recover the higher initial investment. For the majority of the winter, the heat pump handles the workload. It works by drawing ambient heat from the outside air, compressing it to a higher temperature and supplying it indoors. This process avoids the burning of fossil fuels and eliminates greenhouse gas emissions. It’s safe, clean and environmentally friendly. The only downside is that the heat pump starts to struggle when outdoor conditions drop below freezing. Since we face temperatures down to twenty-five below zero, we need the power of a gas furnace. At a specified point, the furnace automatically takes over and handles demand for as long as necessary. When the weather warms up, the heat pump reverses operation to pull heat out of the house. It operates very much like a conventional air conditioner and easily cools down the whole house.