Heating and Cooling Combined Systems
The biggest advantage of a single system that can provide both heating and cooling is the upfront installed cost and equipment space savings. Further, some system types, such as heat pumps, can be efficient when operating within favorable design parameters but not at the extremes.
The downside to a combined system is the design itself. The system design parameters for heating alone versus cooling alone are vastly different in terms of the overall output and distribution within the space. By combining both functions into one system, the design must be compromised to serve both functions which impacts the performance in other areas such as comfort, wellness efficiency and aesthetics.
Hybrid Systems & Components
There are a number of hybrid systems, individual system components and add on systems intended to improve inherent design barriers of more conventional designs. These options and alternatives can certainly improve efficiency and comfort but should also be scrutinized from a cost/benefit perspective. Additional mechanical equipment, consumables and add-on systems typically increase the overall complexity of the system which can add significant maintenance expense and specialized technical support.
Examples include geo-thermal systems, heat pumps, hydro air, zone dampers, Wi-Fi and programmable thermostats, home automated systems, and sensor and control packages.