Heat pump

Air Source Heat Pumps: A Complete Guide for Canadian Homeowners

A Complete Guide for air source heat pump installation

As the focus on renewable energy grows, exploring sustainable solutions for your home becomes increasingly important. Air source heat pumps have emerged as a popular choice, offering a range of benefits for both homeowners and the environment.

Air source heat pumps can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions – by more than 500 million tons by 2030. So, they are highly efficient and environmentally friendly and could be an alternative to traditional electric heating systems. Over 840,000 Canadian homes have already made the switch to heat pumps.

This guide will provide a comprehensive overview, including the benefits and potential drawbacks of air source heat pumps, costs, Canadian rebates, and other things you should know.

What is an Air Source Heat Pump?

An air-source heat pump is a device that extracts heat from the outside air and transfers it to water. The heated water circulates through radiators or underfloor heating systems to warm your home. Also, the heat pump can heat water stored in a hot water cylinder for use in hot taps, showers, and bathtubs.

How Does the Air Source Heat Pump Work?

Here’s how it works in five key steps:

  1. Heat Absorption: The fluid absorbs heat from the outdoor air, even in an air source heat pump cold climate.
  2. Heat Exchange: This fluid travels through a heat exchanger inside the heat pump.
  3. Temperature Boost: A compressor increases the temperature of the fluid.
  4. Water Heating: Finally, the heated fluid transfers its warmth to the water in your existing heating system, which then circulates through your home to provide warmth.
  5. Continuous Circulation: The cooled fluid then returns to the outdoor unit where the cycle begins again.

Are Air Source Heat Pumps Worth It?

If you’re concerned about how to heat your home efficiently, several options are to consider. While new, efficient boilers can be a good choice for saving money on energy bills, air source heat pumps offer another attractive option.

Here’s why:

  • Highly energy efficient heat pump: Air source heat pumps can significantly reduce energy costs compared to traditional boilers or oil/gas heating systems because they use electricity much more efficiently than conventional heating systems.
  • Low maintenance: They typically have lower maintenance requirements.
  • Reduced carbon impact: By using electricity, they can help reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle.

How to install an Air Source Heat Pump?

Installation is a straightforward process. An external unit is mounted on a wall outside your home and connected to an internal unit that links to your current heating and hot water systems.

An Air Source Heat Pump Cost

Heat pump costs vary depending on your home’s size and needs, but a typical four-bedroom house installation might cost around $10,000 and $20,000 in Canada.

The cost of running your heat pump is determined by its design and operation. Savings on your energy bill are dependent on the system you’re upgrading, as follows:

  • Design and operation of the heat pump: More efficient models and proper settings can relate to lower costs.
  • Radiator size: Properly sized radiators ensure optimal heat distribution and efficiency.
  • Electricity rate: The cost of electricity in your area will affect your operating costs.
  • Operating habits: Optimizing how you use your heat pump, such as adjusting the thermostat settings, can help reduce energy consumption.

Heat Pump Rebates in Canada 2024

The Canadian and Ontario governments offer attractive financial incentives to encourage people to switch to heat pumps. There are three heat pump rebate programs available in Canada in 2024, as follows:

1. Enbridge’s Clean Home Heating Initiative

This Ontario government-sponsored initiative offers rebates of up to $4,500 to homeowners in select municipalities for installing a hybrid heating system that combines a heat pump with a natural gas furnace. These hybrid systems optimize energy use by switching between natural gas and electricity based on efficiency and outside temperature, minimizing energy expenditures and carbon footprints.

The program initially launched in Sault Ste. Marie, St. Catharines, Peterborough, and London, then expanded to Ajax, Barrie, Pickering, and Whitby.

2. Oil-to-Heat Pump Affordability (OHPA) Program

The OHPA program assists low-to-moderate-income Canadian households in switching from home heating oil to more environmentally friendly heat pump systems. Initially offering rebates of up to $10,000 for purchasing a qualified heat pump, the program now provides qualifying households with federal subsidies of up to $15,000.

The goal is to cover the average cost of installing a heat pump, potentially saving homeowners between $1,500 and $4,700 per year on energy.

3. IESO & EAP Electric Heat Programs

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) provides free cold-climate air source heat pumps to income-eligible Ontario homeowners with electrically heated homes through the Energy Affordability Program (EAP). This initiative is part of an effort to improve energy efficiency across the province, which includes increased incentives for tailored energy efficiency projects and demand response programs to promote sustainable power use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Heat Pump Advantages vs. Disadvantages

Feature Advantage Disadvantage
Efficiency 3-4x more efficient than gas boiler Lower heat supply and Larger radiators
Carbon Emissions Low, further reduced with renewable energy
Running Costs Reduced long-term costs May require insulation upgrades for optimal performance and incentives
Financial Incentives Energy bill savings Higher upfront cost compared to other heating systems
Maintenance Low maintenance, long service life Healthier system for longer
Insulation Improves efficiency and may qualify for government support (may require additional investment)
Heat Pump Installation Time 3-8 days for heat pump installation Lengthy process which can take up to 12 weeks from purchase to installation
Space Requirements Needs outdoor space for the pump and indoor space for a water tank (indoor unit may be required, replacing existing boiler)
Heat Supply Lower heat supply – needs Larger radiators
Performance Performance dips in the cold – SCOP (Seasonal Coefficient of Performance) considers this
Noise Noise nuisance – Think about the position during installation
Electricity Electricity can come from renewable sources
Maintenance Low maintenance, long service life Maintenance required
Heat Pump Repair Heat pump repairs may be required – While heat pumps generally require minimal maintenance, repairs may become necessary over time.

Choosing and Installing an Air-Source Heat Pump

Installing an air source heat pump is a good choice for me?

1. Choose an Air Source Heat Pump Suitable for You.

This post can provide valuable information, but consulting with professionals is highly recommended to determine if a heat pump is the right option for your home.

2. Obtain Air Source Heat Pump Cost.

While air source heat pumps have an upfront cost, financing options may be available in your area to help you switch to a more energy efficient heat pump system.

3. Find a Trustworthy Heat Pump Installers

When choosing heat pump installers, look for a company that is certified by a reputable program in Canada. So, you will ensure that the installer meets high standards for qualifications and experience. For additional resources on finding reliable heat pump contractors, visit Confirmed Contracting Corp.

FAQ | Air Source Pump

How much electricity do air source heat pumps use?

A typical air-source heat pump in a typical home uses 5,475 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year.

Do air source heat pumps have a good performance?

Air source heat pumps are surprisingly efficient, even in cold climates – as long as they are properly maintained.

Are air source heat pumps 100% energy efficient?

Heat pumps are very efficient, meaning they can move more heat than the electricity they consume. They typically achieve efficiencies of 300% to 400%, which means they can provide three to four times more heat than the electrical energy they use. In contrast, a space heater can only convert electricity into heat at a maximum efficiency of 100%.

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