9 Reasons Canadians Should Consider a Heat Pump

Danielle Tessier

December 7, 2022

You may be asking yourself what is a heat pump and how does it work? With the rising popularity in recent years, there’s still plenty of myths floating around, such as the idea that heat pumps aren’t a viable option for Canadians. Let’s dispel some of those myths and discuss the many reasons why heat pump systems are a good option for your green home – even in the cold Canadian climate.

But first, what is a heat pump? A heat pump is a device that can heat and cool your home using electricity. They consist of an outdoor unit and one or more indoor units that provide heating to specific areas of your house. They use refrigerant, just like a refrigerator, to transfer heat from warmer areas to colder areas, rather than creating heat like a typical furnace.

Now that we have a basic idea of how they work, let’s see why they are such a great option for heating your home.

1) Heat pumps are highly efficient.

Heat pumps are highly efficient as they work to transfer heat rather than create it. One key metric you’ll often hear about is the coefficient of performance (COP). It’s the ratio of the amount of heat transferred by the heat pump to the amount of electrical power it consumes. Typical heat pumps have COPs that range from 2.5 to 4. This means that for every one unit of electricity put into the system, you get up to 4 units of heat out. This is pretty incredible when you consider the COPs of electric and gas furnaces are usually just below 1! This is what drives the high efficiency and reduction of emissions that can be achieved by using a heat pump.

2) Heat pumps can heat and cool your home.

Heat pumps not only heat your home on cold days, but they also cool your home on hot days! One system can keep your home comfortable all year long. Although heat pumps can be an expensive initial purchase, this can be offset by:

  1. Not having to purchase both a furnace and air conditioner,
  2. Only having to maintain one system and,
  3. Lower electricity bills from operating efficiency.

3) Heat pumps improve air quality.

Heat pumps help keep air clean and humidity balanced. Their built-in air-filtration system removes dust, dirt, allergens, and other airborne contaminants. They also dehumidify in the summer and don’t dry out air in winter, ensuring your home’s air is always comfortable.

4) Cold climate heat pumps work in the Canadian winter.

You may have heard that heat pumps don’t work in cold weather. That used to be true, but with advancements in technology, things have changed. Standard heat pumps (models that sell in the US) can only function to about -10, but cold climate heat pumps can work in temperatures as low as -30. For most places in Canada, this means that heat pumps are a viable option for both heating a cooling your home! As heat pumps do lose some of their heating capacity in cold temperatures, in the coldest regions of the country backup heat, such as electric heat strips added to a ducted heat pump or electric baseboards, is recommended for the most frigid days.

5) Heat pumps are safe.

Heat pumps do not use combustion to produce heat, so they are much safer than traditional gas furnaces. The risk of fire is reduced, and they emit no pollutants from the combustion process. You can have peace of mind that you don’t have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning when using a heat pump.

6) Heat pumps are quiet.

The indoor units operate at noise levels between 18 dB to 30 dB – the higher end of this range is equivalent to whispering. The outdoor units are slightly noisier, usually around 60 dB, which is roughly the same amount of noise a refrigerator makes. If the outdoor units are not installed directly under windows or right next to a neighbour’s house, this level of noise shouldn’t cause any disturbance.

7) Heat pump retrofits are easy to install.

If you already have a centrally ducted furnace or central air, installing a ducted heat pump is very simple. However, if you don’t have ducts, there’s no need to worry! Ductless mini-split heat pump systems can easily be installed with only small holes throughout the building. This makes heat pumps an easy retrofit for almost any green home.

8) Heat pumps qualify for the Canada Greener Homes Grant (and other incentives)!

Several types of heat pumps are eligible under the Canada Greener Homes Grant program, including cold climate heat pumps, which are the best option for most Canadians.

Grants of $2500 are available for systems with one or two indoor heads or air supply outlets and $5000 is available for systems with three or more heads or outlets. A new criterion was introduced in June 2022 that one head or outlet must be present on each level of a home, including split levels or mezzanines, to qualify for the grant. The heat pump must have certain efficiency specifications (found here) and also be on the list of eligible products, purchased in Canada, and installed by a licensed professional.

If you’d like to apply to the Canada Greener Homes Grant Initiative, to receive up to $5000 towards energy efficiency upgrades to your home, including the installation of a heat pump, the application from NRCan is here.

There are also several provincial and municipal level rebates and incentives for heat pumps. Make sure to research what is available in your area before purchasing!

9) Pairing a heat pump with solar can optimize savings.

One way to get the most savings from your heat pump is to pair it with a solar system that can offset some or all of your electric bill. You’ll not only be saving money, but you’ll know your home heating and cooling are powered by a green, sustainable energy source.

If you’re interested in seeing how much solar could save you, complete Solr Solvr’s free assessment or request a customized report and receive up to 3 free quotes from qualified installers in your area.