Should we get a heat pump to help us get to Net Zero?

Hey Doc!

My wife and I were talking last night about what to do with our central air conditioner that is on its last life! We were going to get a new central air but this Canada greener homes rebate has us intrigued and we wanted to see if it makes sense to get a Heat Pump instead? 

Our home is a 2400 sq ft bungalow and we have a natural gas furnace and natural gas water heater. We thought it would be cool to eventually get to Net Zero or as close as possible.

We like the idea of new green efficient technology. What do you think we should do?

Jonathan and Millie Yu

Hey guys, thanks for reaching out to us. 

HVAC Expert, Andrew

An Air Source Heat Pump is a great solution that uses the outside air to both heat a home in winter and cool it in the summer. Because it runs on electricity, a heat pump doesn’t emit harmful emissions. The most common type of heat pump is the air-source heat pump, which has an indoor and outdoor unit similar to an air conditioner.

Heat pumps and air conditioners use a similar technology to cool your home—they both take warm air from the house outside, where the refrigerant absorbs and disperses it. The big difference is that a heat pump has a reversing valve that switches the flow of refrigerant. This means it will do the exact opposite in the winter, bringing in air from outside, absorbing any cold from it, and dispersing the now-warm air into the house.

Although they’re a low-emission option for heating your home, there is a limit to how effective heat pumps can be. While they can run down to -20ºC and -30ºC, they aren’t going to be efficiently heating your entire home at temperatures that low. Getting to Net Zero with a heat pump alone isn’t currently possible. You’ll need a backup source of heat, which would come from electricity, natural gas, or propane.

As is the case with many eco-friendly options, there’s usually a bit more of an up-front investment. While a heat pump set-up will save you energy in the long run, you wouldn’t be able to get away with having it as your sole heating source. Luckily, we have combination furnace/heat-pump systems that would qualify for the Canada Greener Homes Grant.

The Canadian Greener Home Grant is a great program to take advantage of if you’re looking to upgrade or renovate your home. The application process is a little involved, and depending on the model, you may be able to get grant money to cover some of the heat pump cost!. To make the application process a bit more bearable, we created a step-by-step guide on how to apply for the Canada Greener Homes Grant you should check out.

A Net Zero home is a great goal, and there are other ways to reduce your energy footprint, such as putting in solar panels on your roof. If you’re going to be spending the money anyway to replace your current central air system, we’d recommend finding a heat pump that can work with your existing ducting. You can put in a heat pump system with an air handler, or electric back-up heat. Most heat pumps that attach to indoor units won’t be able to keep up with the heating load needed to keep the house comfortable in winter. 

Hope this helps!

Andrew

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