Heat Pumps - What a Truly Confusing Name for Such an Elegant Solution

You’ll be pleased to know that we won’t be doing a ‘Heat Pumps 101’ rundown here. There are plenty of those out there. (Check out NRCan’s excellent overview: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/energy-star-canada/about/energy-star-announcements/publications/heating-and-cooling-heat-pump/6817#b)


Instead, CutYourHomeCarbon.com wants to let homeowners know that there are a number of different ways for your home to enjoy the incredible benefits of heat pumps besides just keeping your food cool or frozen and cooling your home. Bet you didn’t realize your fridge, freezer and AC were actually heat pumps, did you?


There are heat pumps for pretty much every type of home heating and cooling setup:


 

Ductwork heated and cooled homes


OPTION 1 Replace your AC with a like-sized heat pump

  • Referred to in the industry as ‘hybrid heating’, essentially, the heat pump will continue to cool the home as the AC always did. The difference this time is that the heat pump will also heat the home for the majority of the hours in the winter. Only in the harshest conditions will the gas furnace take over. The upfront and ongoing costs are extremely economic. And the installation takes under a day with very little hassle to the owner.

  • You can read more about this design which is written up by NR Can: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/simply-science/the-future-home-heating-hybrid-home-heating-systems-offer-energy-savings-and-reduce-g/22236 . The Atmospheric Fund (TAF) has also done extensive work in this area as well: https://taf.ca/hybrid-heat-pumps-can-be-a-stopgap-to-an-electric-future/

  • Tim’s elderly parents committed to change: https://leasidelife.com/commit-to-change-hybrid-heat-pump-solution-reduces-ghg-emissions/

  • But look at what this means to reduction in time a home’s gas furnace will have to run in a place such as Toronto:


Toronto temperature with furnace/air conditioning


Toronto temperature with heat pump/furnace


OPTION 2 Replace gas furnace and AC with cold climate heat pump

As the title suggests, everything in the home’s heating and cooling system is replaced except the ductwork. Under this design, your gas consumption for heating is eliminated entirely. Instead, the heat pump system, which is electrically powered, covers the full spectrum of winter temperatures. Although more expensive to install and occasionally requiring the homeowner to upgrade their electrical panel to a 200A service, the homeowner in one fell swoop will put a large whole in their household’s emissions, a truly admirable act! This is definitely a head-of-the-pact chess move that everyone will one day have to make.


 

Hot water rads and in-floor heated homes

For homeowners who wish to reduce their carbon footprint, but not replace their water-based heating system, mini-split heat pumps are a very elegant complemantary solution. These smaller systems can be placed strategically through the home where the temperatures are typically too warm in the summer or cold in the winter. With ultimate control to create cooling and heating zones, increased level of comfort, reduced load on the boiler heater and lower energy costs are the outcomes.