We all have a role to play in doing what we can to address climate change by reducing our own carbon footprint.

And as the weather turns cooler many homeowners may be taking a good hard look at their current heating system and considering replacement. If your furnace or air conditioning needs replacing you may wish to consider installing a heat pump as one of things, you can do to be more environmentally friendly by reducing your reliance on fossil fuels.

A heat pump uses technology similar to that found in a refrigerator or an air conditioner. It takes heat from a source such as the air, ground or water and then amplifies and transfers the heat to where it is required.

Benefits of heat pumps

  • They provide heating and cooling all in one.
  • They run on clean hydroelectricity, so they’ll reduce your household’s greenhouse gas emissions if you switch from fossil fuel heating.
  • They’re up to 300% more efficient than electric baseboard heaters.
  • They’re up to 50% more efficient for cooling comparted to a typical window A/C unit.
  • They could be less expensive to operate than a natural gas furnace.

There are three main types of heat pumps – air-to-air, water source and geothermal. An air-source heat pump, one in which takes heat from the outside air and move it indoors is recommended in B.C.

There are two main types of air-source heat pumps: ductless and ducted systems.

A ductless heat pump features an outdoor unit that gathers heat from the air and transfers it via refrigerant lines to one or more heads mounted inside, offering multi-zone heating or cooling. These systems are easy to install but can become less efficient with each head that you add.

The ductless system doesn't rely on ducting in the home to move air around, making it a good alternative to electric baseboards.

Temperature is controlled using a remote control for each head. Or, a traditional thermostat can be installed for some systems.

Both mini-split and multi-split heat pumps can be referred to when talking about ductless options.

A mini-split can refer to all ductless heat pumps, including heat pumps with multiple heads, however it typically refers to a system that has a single indoor head. Multi-split heat pumps always have multiple indoor heads.

A ducted heat pump (also known as central heat pump) has an outdoor unit connected to an indoor unit and uses ducts to move warm or cool air throughout the home.

Since this system requires ducting, it's a good option to replace an existing natural gas furnace. Just note that your existing ducting may require some modification.

Temperature is controlled via a single central thermostat. A ducted mini-split heat pump is also an option.

It works in the same way as a ductless system, except it has a hidden head (usually in the attic) with ducting running to vents in two or more rooms.

Reflecting Canada’s cooler climate for much of the year, the vast majority of heat pumps (about 75%) purchased to date

Greener Homes Grant

The Canada Greener Homes Grant, worth up to a maximum of $5,000 per household, will reimburse Canadian Homeowners for making energy efficient upgrades to their homes. the Grant aims to help make homes more energy efficient and help fight climate change.

Heat Pump Grant

For your heat pump to qualify for the Canada Greener Homes grant of $2,500, it must be an Energy Star–certified air-source heat pump

(so not considered “cold air”) capable of producing 12,000 BTUs per hour when outside temperatures are as low as 8.3°C.

And from a cooling standpoint, the unit must meet a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) equal to or greater than 15.2. (SEER ratings range from 13 to 30.)

To help you grasp what SEER means, here’s how the Mitsubishi Electric site describes it:

“SEER is the miles per gallon of HVAC and represents how much electricity is required to run a unit at full capacity during a given period of time.”

(Instead of miles per gallon, think kilometres per litre, here in Canada.)

So, the higher the SEER, the less electricity required to run the unit. And typically, the higher the SEER, the more expensive the heat pump.

through the Canada Greener Homes Grant have been cold-climate air-source heat pumps (ccASHPs).

These units operate well below freezing, with current models producing heat from air as cold as -25°C.

Mini-Split Grant

Mini or multi-split cold-climate air-source heat pumps also qualify for a $2,500 grant.

Energy Star air-source heat pumps for centrally ducted systems or split systems with three or more air supply outlets are eligible for a $4,000 rebate.

And cold-climate air-source heat pumps for central or ductless with three or more outlets will get you $5,000.

Stay warm!

RE/MAX in the South Okanagan