In simplest terms, a heat pump is a system that runs on electricity to provide both heating and cooling to your home. It does this by pulling heat from a lower temperature place and pushing it to a higher temperature place. For instance, in the winter, the heat pump will take the heat that’s in the outside air and push it into your home. In the summer months, it will reverse the process to provide cooling.
Heat pump furnaces and boilers provide space heating by adding heat to the air through the combustion of a fuel such as natural gas or heating oil according to the NRCan website. While efficiencies have continually improved, they remain below 100%, meaning that not all the available energy from combustion is used to heat the air.
Heat pumps operate on a different principle. The electricity input into the heat pump is used to transfer thermal energy between two locations. This allows the heat pump to operate more efficiently, with typical efficiencies well over 100%, i.e. more thermal energy is produced than the amount of electric energy used to pump it.”
To reiterate, that means that in theory, a heat pump will save you money if you currently heat exclusively with gas or propane, for two reasons. First, the prices of fossil fuels and associated carbon taxes are due to continue to rise. Secondly, the heat pump turns out more useful energy than it requires to run, unlike your standard fuel home comfort system. According to the NRCan website, you can expect to see up to a 65% reduction in your heating energy costs.
For this reason, the Canadian Government has developed substantial rebate opportunities and interest-free loans as incentives for Canadians to update their home comfort systems and outfit them with a Heat Pump to reduce your homes dependency on propane and gas. Heat Pumps are meant to supplement your fuel-burning systems in the months where heat can be efficiently drawn from the lower temperature area.
You can expect an air source heat pump to last anywhere between 15-20 years if they are properly maintained. Aside from annual maintenance by a qualified HVAC contractor, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure your heat pump maintains its efficiency and maximum lifespan. Be sure to change or clean your air filter every 3 months, as clogged filters will decrease airflow and reduce the efficiency of your system. Also, vents and air registers in your home should be clear of furniture or carpeting, as inadequate airflow to or from your unit can shorten equipment lifespans and reduce efficiency of the unit.
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