I live in a part of the country that switches between extreme winter cold and intense summer heat. The spring and fall seasons are so short, that I barely notice them. The only way to survive the weather is to run some type of heating or cooling equipment at all times. When I bought my house, it was only equipped with a forced air furnace. There was no cooling system, and trying to manage with portable air conditioners or box fans was a nightmare. The heat and humidity created such an unpleasant situation that I couldn’t sleep at night. I called up a local HVAC contractor, planning to invest in central cooling. Since the duct system was already in place, I figured the cost would be reasonable. The HVAC contractor, however, recommended that I spend more on an electric heat pump. I was suspicious that his suggestion was inspired by the opportunity for him to make a larger commission. After doing a considerable amount of research, I realized that the higher cost of a heat pump would eventually save me money. During the summer months, the heat pump would function just like a central air conditioner. In the winter, the heat pump would reverse direction and provide extremely energy efficient heating. Running a heat pump is far less expensive than relying on the gas furnace. Rather than burn fossil fuel to generate heat, the heat pump finds ambient warmth in the outside air and transfers it inside. The process is wonderfully safe, clean and energy efficient, but only effective until the outside temperature drops below freezing. At that point, the furnace would automatically take over. By utilizing both the furnace and heat pump, I would reduce monthly energy bills, as well as the wear and tear on the furnace.