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Heat pump vs. furnace: going green with a heat pump in Canada

Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular heating appliances across Canada, and for good reason. They are capable of providing year-round comfort and temperature control for your home. They’re an energy-efficient alternative to other heating sources, such as natural gas furnaces or electric baseboards. Here’s what you need to know.

external heat pump fans

Why heat pumps are more energy efficient than furnaces

Furnaces add heat to the air by combustion of a fuel like natural gas or heating oil. Despite improvements that have been made in recent years, furnaces are still not100 per cent efficient. This means that not all the available energy from combustion is used to heat the air.


However, heat pumps have well over 97 percent efficiencies, even up to 300 percent in some cases, because they operate on a different principle. They transfer thermal energy between two locations, allowing them to produce more thermal energy than the amount of electric power used to pump it.


Air-source vs. ground-source heat pumps: which is best for you?

Air-source heat pumps draw heat from the outside air. Even when the outdoor temperature is cold, a good deal of energy can be extracted from the air. For example, the heat content of air at -18 C equates to 85 percent of the heat contained at 21 C. However, air-source heat pumps typically require an auxiliary heating source to maintain indoor heating temperatures in frigid weather.


Centrally ducted vs. mini-split heat pumps

Centrally ducted heat pumps distribute heat and cooling through ductwork connected to vents in each room, just like traditional central air conditioning or forced air heat. This makes them best equipped to handle large homes that need consistent heating and cooling and already have ductwork in place.


On the other hand, mini-split heat pumps don’t require ductwork to heat and cool your home. Ductless systems have an outdoor unit and one or more indoor units throughout the house, allowing you to adjust the temperature in each room independently. Mini-split heat pumps are ideal for situations where installing ductwork isn’t a viable option.


Frequently asked questions

Still asking yourself, “Are heat pumps worth it?” Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about these heating appliances to help you see the bigger picture.


What’s the best heating system for a cold climate?

Cold climate air- and ground-source heat pumps are more efficient than other systems such as electric furnaces, boilers and baseboard heaters. In fact, they use about a third as much electricity as baseboard heaters and considerably less energy than gas or oil furnaces.


Are heat pumps better for the environment?

Since heat pumps run on electricity, they have less environmental impact. Heat pumps generate far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than natural gas furnaces because electricity is a cleaner fuel source in Ontario.


Do I need a furnace with a heat pump?

Whether or not you need a backup heat source for your heat pump will depend on the type of heat pump you purchase, your climate zone and the design and efficiency of your home. For example, cold-climate heat pumps are now rated for operation at -20 degrees Celsius.


Moreover, heat pumps work best when your home is well-insulated and sealed. If you haven’t already, you may want to consider improving your home’s insulation and air tightness to ensure your heat pump is most efficient.


How much does it cost to install a heat pump?

The cost of installing a heat pump in your home can range from anywhere between $3,000 to $15,000 or more. Typically, smaller homes will be on the lower end, while larger homes will require more expensive, powerful systems. However, on average, homeowners who switch from an oil-heating appliance to a heat pump can save between $1,500 and $4,700 per year on their home energy bills. Therefore, you can quickly recoup your investment.


Can you offset the cost of installing a heat pump?

Eligible homeowners can apply for a grant of up to $7,100 to cover the costs of changing their oil heating appliance to a heat pump, including purchasing and installing an eligible cold climate air-source heat pump, the required electrical upgrades, and the safe removal of the oil tank.


Heat pumps in Guelph, Cambridge, Stratford and Woodstock

If you want to switch from baseboard heaters, an electric furnace or a boiler to an energy-efficient heat pump, the team at Aire One Heating & Cooling in Kitchener/Waterloo is the place to go. We carry ducted and ductless heat pumps from industry-leading brands like Carrier, Bosch and Mitsubishi.


Our knowledgeable team can install your new unit and keep it in good working order with our protection plan for years to come. We can also help you apply for the Canada Greener Homes Initiative to help you upgrade your system for less. Contact us today for more information on how we can help you make your home greener!


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