I went without central air conditioning for a very long time. Living in the northeast, the summer season only lasts for a few months. However, that brief season can be absolutely brutal. We sometimes deal with temperatures in the high nineties, and the humidity is horrendous. Not only does the house become overheated and feel sticky, but there’s concerns with condensation, mold, mildew, bacteria and dust mites. Portable air conditioners, box fans and open windows simply can’t keep up with demand. I finally decided to make the investment into whole-home cooling and contacted a local HVAC contractor for an estimate. The technician recommended that I install an electric heat pump rather than an air conditioner. Since a heat pump costs a great deal more to purchase and install than an air conditioner, I assumed he was hoping for a bigger profit. He suggested that I do some research into dual fuel systems before making a final decision. I learned that a dual fuel system combines an electric heat pump with a natural gas furnace, taking advantage of the strengths of both. The heat pump is far more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than the furnace. It provides whole-home cooling throughout the summer but is superior to a conventional air conditioner in efficiency and dehumidification. During spring and fall, when the weather is chilly, the heat pump handles the heating needs. Because there’s no combustion process, the system is exceptionally safe, clean and helps to minimize carbon footprint. The drawback is that the heat pump is only effective until the outdoor temperature drops below freezing. At that point, the furnace automatically takes over, providing sufficient comfort for as long as necessary. Because the systems divide the workload, both should last twice as long. By taking advantage of the most economical form of temperature control at any given time, the system saves a great deal of money off utility bills.