Heat pumps: towards a green transition

As energy prices skyrocket and consumers look for ways to save on their electricity bills, experts say Canadians should consider whether installing a heat pump could be part of the solution.

A heat pump is an electrical appliance that looks a bit like an air conditioner and can be used for both heating and cooling.

In winter, an air-source heat pump extracts heat from the outside (there is always heat in the air, even in cold weather) and the “pump” inside. In summer, the cycle is reversed and the heat pump extracts heat from the indoor air and moves it outward.

This technology, which has been around for a long time, can be an energy-efficient alternative to other types of home heating systems, such as a natural gas furnace or electric heaters.

Heat pump efficiency

A heat pump can also eliminate the need for a conventional air conditioner and reduce your home’s environmental footprint if you replace a furnace that uses natural gas, propane or oil.

“Heat pumps are great because they provide efficient year-round cooling in the summer and heating in the winter,” said Susie Rieder, a spokeswoman for BC Hydro, which uses a heat pump at its own plant in Burnaby, B.C.

Rieder, who relied on electric heaters before buying a heat pump, says her heating bills have dropped by about 40 percent since she made the switch. In addition, its heat pump eliminates the need for a separate air conditioning system.

“Summers are getting hotter,” Rieder said. “Especially in places like the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, you see a lot of people using these portable air conditioners — which can be quite inefficient and expensive. The installation of a heat pump can therefore be very useful there as well. »

Save on heat pump installation

Homeowners who opt for an electric heat pump as a replacement for fossil fuel heating (natural gas, propane or oil) may also be eligible for rebates from the federal government, their local or provincial utility, or their municipality.

The installation of a heat pump is eligible for financial assistance under the Rénoclimat, Novoclimat − Maison and Novoclimat – Small Multi-Unit Building programs and the “Transition to dual-energy-electricity-natural gas” component of the Chauffez vert program.

Hydro-Québec also offers a financial assistance program for the installation of a heat pump, under certain conditions.

In the Rénoclimat and Novoclimat programs, the selected heat pump must be on the list of eligible heat pumps at the time of installation and all program conditions must be met.

An eligible heat pump with a -8°C heating capacity of 10,000 BTU/h is eligible for $500 in financial assistance. An eligible heat pump with a -8°C heating capacity of 20,000 BTU/h is eligible for $1,000 in financial assistance.

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