Heat pumps outside a modern house

Are Heat Pumps Worth It in Canada?

As temperatures drop in Canada, homeowners often wonder if their heating system is up to keep their homes warm and cozy throughout the winter months.

Furthermore, heat pump installed in Canada is seen as a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional heating and cooling systems.

However, with the initial cost of installing a heat pump being higher than some other systems, many homeowners wonder if the benefits are worth it.

This article will explore whether heat pumps are an excellent investment for homeowners in Canada, considering factors such as cost, energy efficiency, and many more!

We will also compare different types of heat pumps, including ground source heat pumps, to help readers decide whether a heat pump is suitable for their home.

Buyer’s Guide To Air Source Heat Pumps

HVAC worker installing heat pump


An air source heat pump (ASHP) is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional heating systems that use gas or oil.

It works by absorbing heat from the outside air and transferring it to the inside of a building, providing warmth for space heating and hot water. If you are considering purchasing an ASHP, here is a buyer’s guide to help you make an informed decision:

Determine if an ASHP is suitable for your home

Ensure your home suits the system before purchasing an air source heat pump (ASHP). The efficiency of an ASHP depends on factors such as the size of your home, insulation, and weather conditions in your area.

You should consult with a qualified installer to assess your home’s suitability.

Choose the right size.

The size of an air source heat pump (ASHP) will depend on the heating demands of your home. An undersized unit may not be able to heat your house effectively, while an oversized unit will be inefficient and costly. Therefore, it is crucial to have an installer size the unit appropriately.

Look for efficiency ratings.

When choosing an air source heat pump (ASHP), look for models with high seasonal performance factor (SPF) and coefficient of performance (COP) ratings.

Compared to appliances that generate heat, like natural gas furnaces, boilers, or electric baseboards, water heaters, heat pumps are much more efficient since they rely on heat transfer. These ratings indicate the efficiency of the system. The higher the rating, the more efficient the ASHP will be.

Consider the noise level.

Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) can be noisy, especially during winter, when they have to work harder to heat your home. If noise is a concern, look for units with low decibel (dB) ratings.

Check for warranty and maintenance.

Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) are durable and long-lasting but require regular maintenance. Check for units with warranties that cover both parts and labor. Additionally, ask the installer about the maintenance required and any associated costs.

Compare prices

Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) can be expensive to purchase and install. Compare prices from multiple installers to get the best deal. Additionally, look for any available government grants or incentives to offset the installation cost.

Find a qualified installer.

Installation is a critical factor in the performance and efficiency of an ASHP. Find a qualified installer who is experienced in installing ASHPs and can provide references.

A Note on Energy Management in the Home

Home energy management is an essential consideration for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One technology that can aid in this effort is the heat pump.

Unlike traditional air conditioners that consume large amounts of energy, heat pump technology is highly efficient and can be used for heating and cooling.

Heat pumps transfer heat from one location to another, making them an eco-friendly alternative to traditional heating and cooling systems.

When it comes to air conditioning, using a programmable thermostat can help regulate the air conditioner temperature and reduce energy consumption. In addition, regularly cleaning or replacing air filters in air conditioning units can improve efficiency.

In addition to investing in heat pump technology, homeowners can implement other energy management practices to reduce their carbon footprint.

Simple measures like turning off lights and unplugging electronics when not in use, using energy-efficient LED grow light bulbs and appliances, and sealing windows and doors can make a significant difference.

By implementing energy management practices and investing in efficient technologies like heat pumps, homeowners can help reduce their energy consumption and minimize their environmental impact.

Woman showing a model of energy-saving house

Heat Pump System Components

Heat pump systems are a highly efficient and versatile way to heat and cool homes. In contrast to electric baseboard heaters or traditional air conditioning systems, heat pumps can provide both cooling during the summer and heating during the winter.

This makes them an excellent choice for homeowners looking to save money on energy bills, particularly in regions with fluctuating natural gas prices.

Heat pump systems have several components that provide efficient heating and cooling. The outdoor unit of a heat pump contains the compressor and heat exchanger, which are responsible for transferring heat between the outdoor and indoor environments.

The indoor unit contains the air handler, which circulates air throughout the home, and the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat from the indoor air.

In addition to these components, heat pump systems include a refrigerant, a substance that facilitates heat transfer. The refrigerant circulates through the heat pump system, absorbing and releasing heat between the indoor and outdoor units.

During the cooling season, a heat pump system functions like a traditional air conditioning system, using outdoor temperatures and heat exchangers to transfer heat energy from home. However, in frigid temperatures, the heat pump system reverses its operation, using heat energy from the outdoor air to heat the home’s interior.

The energy efficiency ratio (EER) is a key metric used to measure the efficiency of heat pump systems, taking into account both their cooling, heating unit, and heating performance.

Homeowners can save money on electricity bills by installing a high-efficiency heat pump system while still enjoying the benefits of a proven and reliable technology.

The Benefits of Heat Pumps In Canada

Heat pumps are a popular heating and cooling option in Canada due to their many benefits. Here are some of the critical advantages of using heat pumps in Canada:

Energy Efficiency

Heat pumps are highly energy-efficient, meaning they use less energy to heat and cool your home than natural gas furnaces or even traditional HVAC systems. This can result in significant cost savings on your energy bills over time.


Heat pumps can be used for heating and cooling, making them a versatile option for Canadian homeowners. This means you only need one system to keep your home comfortable all year round.

Climate Control

Heat pumps can maintain a consistent indoor temperature, making them ideal for Canadian weather conditions. They can also adjust to changes in outdoor temperature, ensuring that your home stays comfortable no matter the weather.

Environmentally Friendly

Heat pumps are a green heating and cooling option using renewable energy sources. This makes them an environmentally friendly choice for Canadian homeowners looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Long Lifespan

Heat pumps have a longer lifespan than traditional HVAC systems, so that they can provide reliable heating and cooling for many years. This makes them a cost-effective option over the long term.

Drawbacks of Heat Pumps In Canada

While heat pumps offer many benefits for Canadian homeowners, there are also some drawbacks. Here are some of the critical disadvantages of using heat pumps in Canada:

Higher Upfront Cost

Heat pump installation can be more expensive than traditional HVAC systems, making them less accessible for some homeowners. However, the energy savings may offset the initial investment over the long term.

Limited Effectiveness in Extreme Temperatures

In frigid temperatures, heat pumps may struggle to provide adequate heating. While this is less of an issue in Canada’s milder climates, it can be a concern for homeowners in the coldest regions of the country.

Maintenance Requirements

Heat pumps require regular maintenance to ensure they operate efficiently and effectively. This can include cleaning the outdoor unit, checking the refrigerant levels, and replacing air filters.


Heat pumps can produce more noise than traditional HVAC systems, which may concern some homeowners. However, newer models are designed to operate more quietly.

Dependence on Electricity

Heat pumps especially require electricity to operate, for example, electric heat pumps, which means they are less effective during power outages. This can be a concern during severe weather events or other emergencies.

How Do Air Source Heat Pumps Work?

Air Source Heat Pump in winter condition

Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) take in air from outside and pass it over an evaporator coil containing a refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs the heat from the air and turns it into a gas.

The gas is then compressed, increasing its temperature and pressure, passing over a condenser coil inside the building. Finally, the heat from the gas is transferred to the building’s heating system or hot water tank, and the gas returns to its liquid state.

The liquid refrigerant then passes through an expansion valve, which reduces its pressure and temperature. This allows it to absorb more heat from the outside air, and the process starts again.

The efficiency of an ASHP is measured by its Coefficient of Performance (COP), which compares the amount of heat energy produced to the amount of electrical energy consumed.

ASHPs can have a COP of around 3 to 4, which means that for every unit of electricity used to power the pump, three to four units of heat energy are produced.

Types of Heat Pumps

There are three main types of heat pumps: air source, ground source, and water source.

Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs)

These are the most common type of heat pump and work by extracting heat from the outside air. They are easy to install and operate, making them popular for residential heating and cooling.

ASHPs can be air-to-air, which heats or cool the air in a building, or air-to-water, which transfers the heat to a hot water tank.

Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP)

Also known as geothermal heat pumps, these ground source heat pump systems use pipes buried in the ground to extract heat from the earth. GSHPs are highly efficient and can provide consistent heating and cooling year-round.

They are more expensive to install than ASHPs but can provide significant long-term cost savings.

Water Source Heat Pumps (WSHPs)

These pumps extract heat from a water source, such as a lake or river. WSHPs are highly efficient and can be used for both heating and cooling. They are often used in commercial buildings or large residential properties.

Heat pumps can also be categorized based on their applications. For example, air-to-water heat pumps can be used for underfloor heating or a swimming pool, while water-to-water heat pumps can be used for hydronic heating or heating domestic hot water.

Heat Pump Considerations for Canadians

Energy Efficiency Considerations

Look for high SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) ratings for heat pumps. This will ensure that the unit is energy-efficient and can help reduce energy bills.

Sizing Considerations

Proper sizing is critical for optimal performance and energy efficiency. The heat pump size should be based on the heating and cooling requirements of the home, the climate zone, and the size and orientation of the house.

Installation Considerations

Professional installation is critical for the optimal performance of the heat pump. The installation should be done by a certified HVAC technician who can ensure that the unit is installed correctly and safely.

Operation Considerations

Heat pumps operate best when you use them consistently. Therefore, we recommend you keep the temperature setting at a constant level rather than adjusting it frequently.

Maintenance Considerations

Regular maintenance is essential for the proper functioning of the heat pump. This includes cleaning or replacing the air filters, checking the refrigerant levels, and inspecting the coils and fans.

Design Considerations

The location of the heat pump is also critical. It should be installed in an area with adequate airflow and free from obstructions blocking the airflow.

Operating Costs

Heat pumps are generally more cost-effective to operate than traditional heating systems. However, the operating costs can vary depending on the size and efficiency of the unit, as well as local energy rates.

Heat Pumps Life Expectancy and Warranties

Outdoor heat pump unit of a house

The life expectancy of a heat pump can vary depending on several factors, such as usage, maintenance, and environmental conditions. Generally, a well-maintained heat pump can last between 10 to 15 years. However, some high-end models may last up to 20 years.

Most manufacturers offer warranties for their heat pumps that cover parts and labor. The warranty length can vary depending on the manufacturer and model but typically ranges from 5 to 10 years. In addition, some manufacturers may offer extended warranties for an additional cost.

It is essential to check the warranty details carefully before purchasing a heat pump. The warranty should cover parts and labor and include provisions for repair or replacement in case of a defect or malfunction. Some warranties may also include provisions for regular maintenance and inspections.

In addition to the manufacturer’s warranty, it is essential to consider purchasing an extended warranty or service agreement from the installer or a third-party provider. This can provide additional protection and peace of mind and may include coverage for repairs or replacements beyond the manufacturer’s warranty period.

Regular maintenance, such as cleaning or replacing filters and checking refrigerant levels, can help prolong the heat pump’s life and ensure optimal performance. It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and have the unit inspected by a certified HVAC technician annually.

Are Heat Pumps Worth It In Canada? Our Honest Opinion

Yes, I honestly believe heat pumps are worth it in Canada. They offer energy efficiency, cost savings, versatility, environmental friendliness, and consistent comfort.

However, it’s essential to consider factors like climate, home size, and budget before deciding if a heat pump is the right choice.

While they may have a higher upfront cost than traditional heating and cooling systems, long-term savings can make them a worthwhile investment.

If the factors align with your needs and budget, heat pumps are an efficient and cost-effective heating and cooling solution in Canada.

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