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August 30, 2023

The Ultimate Heat Pump Buying Guide for Homeowners

An air-to-air heat pump unit outside a home in the winter

Are you a homeowner in Ontario looking to make a smart and eco-friendly choice when it comes to heating and cooling your home? Whether you’re facing the sweltering heat of summer or the frigid chill of winter, finding the right HVAC solution is incredibly important. 

Selecting the right heat pump is not just a matter of comfort, it’s an investment in your home’s sustainability and your family’s well-being.

Throughout this heat pump buying guide, we’ll walk you through the intricacies of heat pumps, from understanding how to choose the right type for your home, sizing it correctly, and maximizing its efficiency. 

Let’s begin the journey towards a more comfortable, sustainable, and cost-effective home heating and cooling solution!

Types of Heat Pumps

A heat pump is an alternative to traditional HVAC systems that offers numerous benefits to homeowners looking to heat and cool their homes. 

Heating-wise, heat pumps are different from furnaces and boilers because they only use a small amount of energy to move heat indoors. This two-in-one system also uses less energy to cool down households while generating almost zero gas emissions. They can help you decrease your carbon footprint and save money at the same time.  

Heat pumps vary based on what energy source they use for heat compression. Some common types are as follows: 

1. Air-Source Heat Pumps (ASHP)

This type of heat pump is the most common in Ontario households. Also referred to as air-to-air heat pumps, they work by extracting heat from the outside air and transferring it into your home during the heating season. In the summer, they can reverse the process to provide cooling. It can be ducted or ductless.

2. Ground-Source Heat Pumps (GSHP)

Ground-source heat pumps, also called geothermal heat pumps, are known for their renewable process. Instead of air, this heating system pulls heat from the earth, groundwater, or both to warm the coils or underfloor heating. They are highly efficient and environmentally friendly.
A geothermal heat pump

3. Water-Source Heat Pumps (WSHP)

Water-source heat pumps use the same principle as air-to-air heat pumps, but transfer heat to a hydronic heating system (radiant floor heating or baseboard radiators) or for domestic hot water heating.

4. Hybrid Heat Pumps: Combining Technologies for Efficiency

Hybrid heat pumps, also known as dual-fuel furnaces, consist of an electric heat pump and a gas furnace. You get the best of both worlds with these.

Choosing the Right Heat Pump for Your Home

You should consider several factors when buying a heat pump, including the region you live and the size of your home.

Assessing Your Climate and Region

While all heat pumps provide ample heating and cooling, not all models can withstand extreme temperatures, especially during winter.

The Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) has released a database of various heat pump models that can withstand the winter cold. You’ll find multiple models with varying ranges in temperature limits, making them perfect for below-zero climates. 

Additionally, you should look for a variable-speed compressor in heat pumps. This component helps the system switch and adapt to changing temperatures, which is especially beneficial for homeowners living in regions with varying climates.

Sizing Your Heat Pump

Many sizes are available on the market, but unfortunately not all will fit your heating and cooling needs. Oversizing leads to a waste of resources, while undersizing puts too much stress on the pump. Factors to consider include: 

  • Your home’s layout
  • Number and location of windows
  • Home insulation
  • SEER Rating
  • Flow Rates

Calculating Heat Load and Heat Loss

You can get the correct heat pump size by calculating the heat load and loss

The rule of thumb for heat load is that 1 sq. ft. of living space equals 30 BTU heating output. Measure your home’s total square feet, then multiply it by 30. 

Heat loss calculations use more complex formulas. It involves measuring various areas of your home and using a program to find out the heat loss of each room. An HVAC professional will be able to do these calculations for you. 

Schedule a Heating Load Assessment

Energy Efficiency and Environmental Impact

Environmentalists favour heat pumps over furnaces due to their efficiency and reliance on renewable sources for heating and cooling. 

Advantages of Heat Pumps in Reducing Energy Consumption

Heat transfer is much more efficient than burning fossil fuels to create heat. Air-source heat pumps deliver three times more heat energy to your home than the electricity it uses. You’ll get the results you want while your system works less. 

Additionally, heat pumps also function as air conditioners by pulling heat from your home and expelling it outside. As such, opting for a heat pump at home can help you conserve energy while simultaneously lowering your utility bills. 

Lowering Carbon Footprint with Heat Pump Technology

These heating and cooling systems produce little to no greenhouse gas emissions! Switching to heat pumps may reduce single-family home emissions by 142 million metric tons annually. 

Comparing Energy Efficiency Ratings: COP and SEER

The two must-know energy efficiency ratings for heat pumps are COP and SEER

COP stands for Coefficient of Performance and measures the heating efficiency of a system by dividing the heat produced by the energy used. A high number means less energy consumption, so look for the highest possible rating when buying a heat pump.

On the other hand, SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and measures a heat pump’s cooling performance. This rating’s calculation involves dividing the total cooling output of the season (BTUs/hour) by the total energy consumption during a period (watts/hour). A high SEER value is better as it denotes less energy consumption.

an HVAC contractor expertly installs a heat pump outside of someone’s home

Professional Installation and Maintenance

The effectiveness and longevity of your heat pump depend not only on selecting the right system but also on proper installation and ongoing maintenance. 

Installing a heat pump is a complex task that requires technical expertise. It’s crucial to hire a licensed and experienced HVAC contractor for the job. Here’s why professional installation is essential:

  • Ensures the correct sizing and placement of the heat pump for optimal performance
  • Guarantees the proper installation of refrigerant lines and electrical connections

Heat Pump Installation Process

  • Site Assessment: The contractor will assess your home to determine the best location for the heat pump’s outdoor and indoor units. Factors such as sun exposure, airflow, and proximity to existing infrastructure are considered.
  • Proper Sizing: Based on your heating and cooling needs, the contractor will ensure the heat pump is appropriately sized. This step is crucial for efficiency and comfort.
  • Quality Installation: A professional installation includes properly sealing and insulating ducts (if applicable), ensuring a level and stable foundation for the outdoor unit, correctly connecting refrigerant lines and electrical wiring, and testing the system thoroughly to verify performance.

Post-Installation Checks

  • System Testing: After installation, the contractor should perform comprehensive tests to ensure the heat pump is functioning correctly. This includes checking for refrigerant leaks, airflow, and thermostat calibration.
  • User Training: The installer should provide you with instructions on how to operate and maintain your heat pump efficiently. This includes setting temperature controls, changing filters, and understanding the thermostat.

Get a Heat Pump Installation Quote

Heat Pump Maintenance for Prolonged Lifespan

Proper installation and routine maintenance not only extend the lifespan of your heat pump but also maintain its efficiency, which translates into lower energy bills and a more comfortable home. By staying proactive, you’ll ensure that your heat pump continues to serve your home reliably for years to come.

Small actions—like replacing the air filter, dusting the vents, and keeping the outdoor unit clean—can make a big difference in the health of your heat pump.

💡 Read more: Seasonal HVAC Maintenance Guide for Homeowners

On top of routine DIY maintenance as a homeowner, scheduling annual preventative care with your HVAC technician is necessary. During these visits, the technician will check for refrigerant leaks and pressure levels, clean and lubricate moving parts, inspect electrical connections, ensure proper airflow, and address any issues before they become major problems.

A man sleeping comfortably on his right side

Tips for Maximizing Heat Pump Efficiency

Buying a heat pump is the first step towards energy-efficient heating and cooling, but to fully benefit from its potential, it’s crucial to optimize its performance. Here are some tips to help you maximize the efficiency of your heat pump:

1. Set the Thermostat Wisely

Whether it’s summer or winter, never crank your thermostat too high or low since this makes your heat pump inefficient. Here are the optimal settings you should use:

  • Winter and spring: 20°C
  • Summer and fall: 25°C

💡 Related resource: Ideal Room Temperature for Comfortable Living

Another option is upgrading to a programmable or a smart thermostat. See the benefits below:

  • Programmable Thermostat: This lets you set a pre-planned temperature setting at certain times and days, helping you save money on energy costs. 
  • Smart Thermostat: This type allows remote control over your heat pump via a Wi-Fi connection, which makes last-minute adjustments possible. It also tracks your usage pattern and suggests an optimized schedule to reduce energy consumption.

2. Monitor and Adjust Heat Pump Settings

Zoning System: If you have a ductless mini-split heat pump or a zoned system, make use of individual zone controls to condition only the spaces that need heating or cooling.

Investigate Energy-Savings Modes: Many heat pumps have energy-saving modes or features like “Eco” or “Away.” Explore these options to optimize energy use during different times of the day or year.

The Cost of Buying a Heat Pump

Heat pumps are not inexpensive, with both the machinery and installation capable of running up quite the price tag. Generally, you can expect to pay around $18,000 for one in Canada, albeit with significant variation. 

The type of heat pump you choose will greatly affect the price. Air-source heat pumps tend to be the most affordable, especially ductless mini-split models. Conversely, ground source heat pumps are much more expensive, often ranging closer to $40,000 due to increased labour costs associated with installation. However, as mentioned earlier, the long-term energy savings with these models are significantly greater. 

Price variation can also be attributable to several factors such as size and brand. Expect to pay more for bigger units from reputable brands—the concept of “getting what you pay for” is undeniably true when it comes to heat pumps! 

Cost-Effectiveness Analysis: Short-Term vs. Long-Term Savings

If one thing stops you from switching to a heat pump, it will probably be the high upfront costs. However, consider the following when evaluating a heat pump as a potential long-term investment: 

Seeing the return on investment for heat pumps requires a broader perspective on costs. On average, the initial investment (i.e. the model itself and installation costs) is recouped after 10 years.

A couple studying a bill with a laptop and calculator

Keep Your Home Warm with Reliable Heat Pump Services

Selecting a reputable heat pump technician is a pivotal step toward reliable home heating and cooling. A knowledgeable and experienced professional can ensure that your heat pump is installed correctly, operates at peak efficiency, and receives the necessary maintenance over time.

When starting the process of buying a heat pump, you’ll want to ensure the company helping you understands your home’s unique sizing, heating and cooling requirements, which is where LG Home Comfort shines.

As a proud Canadian, family-owned company, our focus is on ensuring your home is comfortable and efficient for years to come. Our competitively priced heat pumps are an excellent choice for homeowners looking to lower their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint, all while enjoying a peaceful and low-maintenance home environment.

Contact us to learn more about our customizable heating and cooling solutions.

Choosing the Right Heat Pump For Your Home

Finding the right heat pump is crucial for your home's efficiency and comfort. When considering a heat pump, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, your home's size and specific heating and cooling needs will determine the size and type of heat pump required. Next, you'll need to consider the unit's efficiency rating and the energy savings it can provide.

Choosing a reputable and experienced installer, like LG Home Comfort, is also important to ensure the unit is installed correctly and safely. With these factors in mind, you can make an informed decision that will keep your home comfortable and efficient for years to come.

Ducted Air-Source Heat Pump

A ducted air-source heat pump heats and cools your house through a ductwork system. These systems can be more expensive to install, but they offer high-efficiency heating and cooling throughout your home.

Get a Quote
Ductless Air-Source Heat Pumps

Ductless air-source heat pumps are ideal for homes without ductwork or needing room-by-room temperature control. These systems are easy to install and highly efficient, saving money while keeping your home comfortable.

Get a Quote

FAQs

Are Heat Pumps Worth it in Canada?

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Yes! Heat pumps work well in both hot and cold climates. However, a supplementary heat source is recommended if you frequently encounter weather below -25ºC.

Needing a backup heating system depends on your heat pump type, climate zone, and home energy efficiency. Homeowners in very cold climates usually integrate their heat pump into existing HVAC systems or buy a hybrid dual-fuel heat pump.

How Long Is the Typical Lifespan of a Heat Pump?

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The average lifespan of a heat pump is 15 years, but it can extend up to 20 when properly maintained through routine inspections.

Are Heat Pumps Eligible for Tax Credits?

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Ducted or ductless air-source heat pumps are eligible for ENERGY STAR Tax Credit. Learn more about the terms and conditions here.

Why are Heat Pumps Better than an Air Conditioner?

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Heat pumps are better than air conditioners because they don’t consume a lot of electricity or emit any harmful pollutants. They also switch to a heating mode when needed, perfect for regions with varying climates.

What Makes an Efficient Heat Pump?

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A heat pump heats and cools a room by transferring heat instead of gaining it from a fuel source. This reduces 50% of electricity usage when compared to furnaces and baseboard heaters, making it an efficient heating choice.

What Is a Good Heating Seasonal Performance Factor?

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The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor is the ratio of heat output during the heating season to its used electricity. Look for ratings between 8 to 10 for a great heat pump performance.

What Are Cold Climate Heat Pumps?

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Cold climate heat pumps are designed to withstand very low temperatures in cold regions. Their refrigerants have a lower boiling point, so the process of drawing heat and transferring it indoors is faster.

Terms and Conditions

  • Once an initial service has been completed, the customer will be on a one-year commitment
  • After the initial 12 months, the contract will be renewed on a month-to-month cadence
  • If a service is completed for the next year, it automatically renews the commitment for an additional year
  • Customers can cancel at any time after the 12-month initial commitment as long as the following year’s service has not been completed.
  • Customers need to provide 30 days written notice in order to cancel their plan