June 1, 2021

Heat pumps and their benefits

In Quebec, hydroelectricity heats most of our homes. Summer can be as hot as winter is cold—that’s the beauty of extreme weather. Electric baseboard heaters are probably the most popular heating solution as they are the cheapest. But the heat pump, while initially more expensive, offers numerous benefits. Let’s talk heat pumps!

What is a heat pump?

A heat pump is the large device you often see on the side of a house. The air-to-air pump is the most common type of home heat pump. Air-to-water models can also heat the water in the house, but we won’t cover this range.

How does it work?

Basically, in heating mode, the heat pump draws in warm air from outside and uses its fan to pump warm air throughout the house.

When the mercury drops between -12 °C and -25 °C, certain models will need a little help from the furnace or boiler. While effective, a heat pump can’t warm us on its own all winter. If you opt for a central heating system, the heat pump will stop and the furnace will automatically take over. With a wall unit, you will need to manually switch to another type of heating such as electric baseboards.

All year round

The main advantage of the heat pump is that you can use it all year round—for heating in winter and air conditioning in summer. In winter, a heat pump transfers heat recovered from outside air into the house. In summer, it does the opposite to pump cool air into the home.

If you can’t decide between an air conditioner and a heat pump, the latter is more practical. An air conditioner transfers only cold air, while a heat pump transfers both hot air and cold air. So you get a 2 in 1!

Energy efficiency and savings

Time to talk efficiency and cost!

Does the coefficient of performance ring a bell? A heat pump has a Cp of approximately 3. This means that the heat pump uses 1 kWh of electricity to extract 2 kWh of energy from the outside air and obtains 3 kWh of energy for heating. Basically, the idea is to do more with less.

This is why electricity costs for a heat pump are lower than when using only electric baseboards. The heat pump uses less energy while providing increased comfort. And the energy savings will quickly offset the initial cost.

Installation and maintenance

A heat pump can easily be installed in a house that has never had one. Given the complexity involved, you will need to contact a certified contractor. It’s certainly not the time to show off your DIY skills!

Ready for a heat pump? There are various subsidy programs that provide financial assistance to homeowners wishing to replace or install a heat pump.

When shopping for your new system, consider checking the EnerGuide label and choosing an Energy Star product for better energy efficiency.

See also:

Purifying Indoor Air

Cleaning the Ducts and Pipes in Your Home

Choosing a Fireplace for an Environmentally Friendly Home

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