For a long time, my family went without central cooling. Living in the northeastern part of the country, it’s not necessary. Despite the heat and humidity, the summer season doesn’t last all that long. I eventually got tired of getting by with box fans and portable air conditioners. The open windows were allowing all sorts of dust and pollen into the house, which aggravates my allergies. Plus, it was just about impossible to get a good night’s sleep on hot, clammy nights. When I called a professional HVAC contractor to get a quote on a central air conditioner, he recommended I get a heat pump instead. A heat pump costs quite a bit more to purchase and install than an air conditioner. However, a heat pump provides a whole bunch of extra benefits. It combines both heating and cooling capacity. It operates a lot like a refrigerator in that it moves heat from one place to another. During the warm weather, it pulls heat out of the indoor air and uses refrigerant to pump it outside. When the weather turns cold, there’s still ambient heat available in the outdoor air. The heat pump takes advantage of this heat and transfers it indoors, providing very energy efficient temperature control. The absence of a combustion process eliminates concerns over hot surfaces, fumes and greenhouse gas emissions. The heat pump is exceptionally environmentally responsible and keeps running costs low. When the outside temperature drops below freezing, the heat pump becomes ineffective. At that point, the furnace automatically starts up and handles the heating requirements. Now only does a dual fuel system trim the cost of both heating and cooling but it also reduces the workload on both components. The heat pump and furnace will both last longer.