Are Heat Pumps replacing traditional heating and cooling systems?

Most HVAC systems can last a couple decades with proper care, but all units will eventually need to be replaced. If your home's heating or cooling system is aging, you're probably thinking about your options for replacing it. One of the more popular systems today is a heat pump, which provides both heating and cooling functions with just one unit.

Heat pumps can be a great alternative to traditional systems for homeowners in Canada. If you're in the market for a new HVAC system, you should understand how heat pumps work and why they have become so popular among homeowners and business owners.

How Heat Pumps Work

Heat pumps control the temperature in your home by transferring heat from one place to another. The system consists of an outdoor unit and an indoor unit, both of which contain a coil and a fan. To cool your home down, the system pumps liquid refrigerant into the indoor unit, and the refrigerant absorbs the heat from the air. This causes the liquid to evaporate into a gas, which then escapes to the air outside.

To warm your home, the system runs the opposite way. Even on very cold days, a heat pump can absorb warmth from the outdoor air. Then, the refrigerant is pumped into your home, and it releases the heat inside.

There are two main types of heat pumps: air source pumps and geothermal pumps. Air source heat pumps transfer heat between your home and the outdoor air. Geothermal pumps transfer the air between your home and the ground surrounding it. However, their basic function is the same.

The Rise of Heat Pumps in Canada

Heat pumps have been an option for heating and cooling homes for decades, but they've become especially popular in recent years. When it comes time to replace the home's HVAC system, more and more homeowners are choosing to install heat pumps instead of traditional systems.

The number of heat pumps installed in homes and businesses in Canada has almost doubled in the last two decades.

In 2000, there were around 400,000 heat pumps in the country. Today, there are almost 800,000 functioning heat pumps in homes and businesses. The majority of the heat pumps in Canada are found in Ontario and Quebec, but heat pumps can be successfully installed in virtually any location.

Benefits of Using a Heat Pump

Heat pumps are becoming such a popular option because they tend to be more efficient than traditional heating and cooling systems. Here are some of the biggest reasons people make the switch to heat pumps:

Reduced Energy Bill
Heat pumps are a highly efficient alternative to traditional heaters. They move heat around instead of generating it, which requires far less energy and can dramatically reduce your power bill.

Most homeowners find that the major downside to installing a heat pump is the up-front cost of the system. Heat pumps can be expensive to install, but the money you'll save on your utility bills over time can offset a big portion of the cost over time.

Environmentally Friendly
Installing a heat pump can be a great way to reduce your home's carbon emissions. Heat pumps can reach over 100 percent efficiency, which means they transfer more energy than they consume.

Traditional gas furnaces, on the other hand, only reach about 95 percent efficiency. If reducing your home's carbon emissions is a priority for you, replacing your old HVAC system with a heat pump is one of the most effective steps you can take.

One System for Two Jobs
Heat pumps cool down your home in the summer and warm it up in the winter. Having just one system that works year-round is far simpler than dealing with separate heating and cooling systems.

You don't have to worry about inspecting and maintaining more than one system throughout the year, so you can save time and money on repairs and preventative maintenance.

Consistent Temperature Control
Heat pumps tend to heat or cool your home more consistently than traditional heaters and air conditioners. Older HVAC units may heat or cool your home unevenly, especially if they haven't had the necessary preventative maintenance or aren't the correct size for the house.

Heat pumps distribute the warm or cool air uniformly throughout your home, and they run at a consistent and sustained level instead of turning on and off frequently to maintain the temperature.

Better Air Quality
Heat pumps constantly circulate and mix the indoor air with the outdoor air, and they filter the air before it enters your home. As long as you regularly clean or replace the system's filters, heat pumps can be an effective way to remove dust, pet dander, microbes, and other irritants from the air.

Also, unlike traditional heating systems, heat pumps don't use ductwork, which can be a major source of contaminants. Heat pumps provide humidity control, too, so they can reduce the risk of mold or mildew growth inside the house.

Fewer Safety Concerns
Overall, heat pumps are safer than combustion heating systems because they don't rely on burning fuel. No matter what kind of HVAC system you have, it's always important to do the right preventative maintenance to keep it in good working condition and to avoid dangerous malfunctions. However, the safety risks of a properly maintained heat pump are minimal compared to the risks of a traditional heating system.

Greener Homes Grant Qualification
You may be able to get your heat pump funded partially or in full by Canada's Greener Homes Grant program. Because heat pumps are considered energy efficient alternatives, they're included in the program's list of accepted retrofits. You can apply for the grant online and schedule a pre-installation evaluation with an approved inspector. Not all brands and models of heat pumps are covered by the grant, though, so you should research the details of the program before you make a purchase.

Heat pumps are an eco-friendly and cost-efficient alternative to traditional furnaces and AC units. By installing a heat pump to replace your aging HVAC system, you can reduce your home's carbon footprint and cut back on your energy bill.

Over the next couple decades, heat pumps will most likely continue to grow in popularity as more homeowners upgrade their older units. If you're starting to think about replacing your current heating system, consider scheduling a consultation with a heat pump installation expert to find out if it's a good fit for your home

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