This research develops a novel hybrid fuel heat pump system for space heating of residential and small commercial buildings with built-in optimization and control. Whereas conventional dual fuel systems either run on gas or electricity at any given moment, the proposed seamlessly fuel flexible heat pump (SFFHP) simultaneously consumes gas and electricity and continuously optimizes the proportion of each. The building air flows across the heat pump condenser first and then flows across the furnace coil, and this reduces the heat pump temperature lift. The SFFHP delivers energy savings by allowing each subsystem (gas furnace and electric heat pump) to operate where it performs best to improve energy efficiency, minimize energy cost, and minimize carbon footprint.
The capacities of the electric heat pump and gas furnace are continuously adjusted based on ambient conditions, utility price signals, and marginal grid emission signals. An optimal model predictive control strategy was developed with the goal of minimizing utility cost and minimizing CO2 emission. Two case studies were conducted to simulate the performance of SFFHP during the heating season in Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively. Compared with a conventional electric heat pump, SFFHP yields 33% utility cost reduction and 49% CO2 emission reduction in Chicago. Similarly, it achieves 23% utility cost reduction and 17% CO2 emission reduction in Los Angeles. Case studies demonstrate that SFFHP can deliver significant reductions in peak demand, utility cost, and CO2 emission. Due to the hybrid fuel nature of this novel equipment, user comfort will always be maintained. The fuel flexibility makes it an attractive option for demand response programs.