There are so many heating and cooling systems on the market, it can feel impossible to figure out which option is the best. While there are numerous things to keep in mind while you shop, you may want to look at how the unit is powered. Here's a look at several different options so that you know what's available.

Dual Fuel

A dual fuel heating and cooling unit consists of a heat pump that runs on electricity and a furnace that runs on gas. During the summer, the heat pump functions like an air conditioner, running refrigerant through coils to cool air and releasing it into your home through your HVAC system. When it's mildly cold, the heat pump can reverse the process and provide some heat to your home.

However, it does that by extracting bits of warm air from the outside air. When the outside air gets really cold or below freezing, that becomes impossible, and at that point, the furnace kicks in. Rotating between these two pieces of equipment and two different energy sources helps save energy.

Solar Powered

You can connect almost any type of heating and cooling system to solar panels. Basically, you create a separate circuit for your HVAC system that draws energy from the solar panels. If you want to ensure that the system always works, you also need to connect the set up to the main power grid. That way if the panels don't have enough stored power to run your system, you can rely on your regular air conditioning.

Wood-Powered Heating and Cooling

If you're looking for the best heating and air conditioning solutions for someone who lives off the grid, you may be wondering what you can power with wood. The good news is that you can power all kinds of heating options with wood. In particular, you can use a cast iron wood burning stove, but there are also wood-fueled heaters.

With cooling, it's a little trickier, and there does not seem to be any wood-powered cooling systems on the market. However, some people make their own. Generally, they create a chiller with chemicals such as ammonia or refrigerants that need to be heated. Then, they use a wood fire to keep these elements hot and basically create a continuous cycle absorption system. They are similar to the absorption cooling methods powered by gas and used in many RVs.

Passive Heating and Cooling

Rather than or in addition to investing in a heating and air conditioning system, you may want to invest in some passive options. For heating, consider thermal massing. That is when you set up your home so that a thermal mass absorbs sunlight and heat during the day. Then, at night, when it's cold, the mass releases the heat. This can take a number of different forms. For example, some people use big windows and concrete floors. Other people use large blocks of black stone or certain types of clay walls.

When it comes to cooling, you may want to consider a thermal chimney. This is a ceiling fan that is at the highest point in your home. Ideally, it should be near a skylight. Normally, in the summer, you set the fans to run clockwise. That creates cool air below the fan, but in this case, you want to set the fan blades to rotate counterclockwise. That is useful in the winter because it draws cold air upwards, but in the summer in this situation, it draws cold air up and releases it through the skylight.

To get more ideas, contact a company like Apollo Heating & Air Conditioning.