Heat pump vs. furnace—which is the better option in Canada?

With all the thrill round ChatGPT proper now, I made a decision to ask it to clarify what a warmth pump is, and it got here again with “a warmth pump is a tool that acts like a magic field, transferring heat or cool air to make your house snug, like a heater within the winter and an air conditioner in summer season.”

Past the straightforward AI information, listed here are some compelling details for utilizing a warmth pump. The “magic” lies in the truth that warmth pumps are 300% extra environment friendly than baseboard heaters and furnaces, and 50% extra environment friendly than AC models. And, not like most furnaces, they run on electrical energy, not fuel (except it’s a hybrid warmth pump). Talking of fuel, a current examine discovered that warmth pumps are extra environment friendly than fuel heating, even in chilly climate. And right here’s one other consideration that would persuade you to transition to a warmth pump earlier than later: some elements of Canada have banned fossil-fuel heating programs in new houses.

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That stated, regardless of their superior effectivity, warmth pumps haven’t been adopted in Canada as readily as in different elements of the world. As of 2021, warmth pumps have been the first supply of house heating in solely 6% of Canadian houses. That’s far decrease than in Europe, the place an estimated 16% of residential and industrial buildings used them as of 2022, says Pure Assets Canada (NRCan). And that hole might widen additional with year-over-year warmth pump gross sales rising by practically 40% in Europe final 12 months (together with each air-heating and water-heating warmth pumps), in comparison with 11% for the remainder of the world, in response to the Worldwide Vitality Company.

So, why aren’t Canadians leaping on board, recognizing the potential vitality financial savings of warmth pump options? “When discussing the variations between Canada and Europe, one of many major drivers that impacts the uptake of house heating electrification is vitality costs,” says Robin Librach, the communications officer for NRCan. The price of fuel, electrical energy and pure fuel have skyrocketed in lots of elements of Europe since Russia invaded Ukraine, so European shoppers are understandably looking for extra cost-efficient methods to warmth and funky their houses.

Warmth pump demand is heating up

Few Canadian households have a warmth pump, however NRCan numbers recommend that the tide might lastly be turning. Because the Canada Greener Houses initiative was launched in Might 2021, greater than 47,000 Canadian house house owners have acquired grants for warmth pumps. And warmth pumps are probably the most frequent retrofit undertaken by these taking part in this system, adopted by home windows and doorways, house insulation, air sealing and photo voltaic panels.

At the moment, the Canada Greener Houses Grant gives three ranges of warmth pump rebates, starting from $2,500 to $5,000 relying on the kind of warmth pump in addition to efficiency specs. In Ontario, the place the Canada Greener Houses Grant has been changed by what’s often known as the House Effectivity Rebate Plus program, warmth pump grants go as much as $7,800.

How a lot does a warmth pump value in Canada?

FurnacePrices.ca cites fairly a broad vary of warmth pump costs in Canada, from $3,500 to $15,000, “with a easy ductless mini-split air conditioner system sitting on the decrease finish of the worth vary whereas a geothermal or ground-source warmth pump comes with a remarkably increased value.” (See under for extra on completely different warmth pumps.) Components reminiscent of the scale/sort of house, sort of system, native set up prices and the model of product all issue into the ultimate warmth pump value.

Picture by Mark Douglas Wessel

Sorts of warmth pumps

NRCan’s web site gives a complete overview of warmth pumps and explains the 2 major kinds of residential warmth pumps: air supply and floor supply. Air-source warmth pumps pull warmth from the skin air throughout colder months and do the reverse, eradicating heat air from inside the home, through the hotter months. The primary distinction with ground-source warmth pumps is the precise supply. The earth, floor water or each warmth your house within the winter and funky it in the summertime.

One other key differentiator: how the air is exchanged. A central ducted warmth pump resolution works in tandem with the prevailing ductwork of your house. For houses with out ductwork, house owners can go for mini split-system warmth pumps, which include an out of doors compressor/condenser and a number of indoor dealing with models which might be mounted on the wall—very like a room air con unit.