Heat pumps

What exactly does a heat pump do?

The heat pump is an electrical device that transfers heat from one place to another. 

A heat pump can serve as both a heating and air conditioning system. Some heat pumps can also provide hot water for your home.

During heating periods, the heat pump can help you reduce the use of auxiliary heating and save you money on your energy bill.

Although some heat pump models can cover a large part of your home’s heating needs, cold Québec winters mean that this type of unit cannot fully meet those needs. In conjunction with your heat pump, another heating system must be installed, which will take over during cold weather.

What is the most popular type of heat pump?

The most popular category at present is the air-to-air or air-air heat pump, which is installed in homes that have a hot air heating system or any other home that do not have a central heating system.

The less common type is the air-to-water heat pump, which is combined with a hot water heating system.

What is a low temperature heat pump?

A low temperature heat pump (also known as a "cold climate" heat pump) can heat a home even when the outside temperature is very low.It is an excellent heating solution that is perfectly suited to Quebec's wintry climate.

While standard heat pumps typically heat up to -8°C, low temperature heat pumps can be used up to -20°C. You can find out up to what temperature your heat pump can be used during the cold season by consulting your contractor or the manufacturer’s guide.

Like other heat pumps, a low temperature heat pump also provides air conditioning for the home. Several residential programs offer financial assistance for installing a low temperature heat pump. The model must be included on the list of eligible models.

What should I know before buying a heat pump?

  • The operational life of a heat pump varies between 10 and 15 years.
  • Your electrical entrance panel must be able to support a heat pump hook-up, which is generally the case.
  • Before making your selection, verify your municipal by-laws regarding heat pump location.  
  • Regular maintenance on your unit will be required. For more information, see the section What sort of maintenance is required?
  • When you buy a heat pump, look for the ENERGY STAR® Label, or even better: opt for a heat pump that is recognized as low temperature by the NEEP organization.

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What are the installation costs for an air-to-air heat pump?

The cost of installing an air-to-air heat pump depends on the type of heat pump and your home’s existing heating system.

The efficient operation and durability of a heat pump depends primarily on good maintenance, which should be done in the autumn. The compressor is the most vulnerable element.

A heat pump consumes less energy than a conventional system, but is more expensive to buy.

What sort of maintenance is required?

To maximize the efficiency and lifespan of your heat pump, remember to maintain the unit as recommended by the manufacturer.

Some tasks, such as cleaning filters, coils and the condensation drain, and inspecting the fan and ducts, can be done on your own. However, some inspections and procedures must be performed by a qualified contractor, such as checking the pressure of the refrigerant and its circuit components and inspecting the electrical components.

In addition, make sure that water, snow and ice on the roof of your house do not fall on the heat pump fan. If the unit is exposed to strong winds, build a windbreak around it.

How do I determine the best sizing of a heat pump?

To maximize your heat pump’s performance, make sure that it is properly sized, or in other words, powerful enough to meet your heating needs. Although merchants tend to suggest an ideal sizing for summer weather, it is essential that you choose a model with a larger sizing that can heat your space in winter.

You should take several variables into consideration, such as:

  • the surface area and volume of the house;
  • the configuration and orientation of the house;
  • the geographical location;
  • the type of construction;
  • the degree of insulation and air tightness;
  • the dimensions, type and orientation of the windows.

To properly calculate your heating needs, ask a heating profession who is accredited by the Corporation des maîtres mécaniciens en tuyauterie du Québec (CMMTQ). We suggest that you contact more than one professional to check and confirm the answers you receive.

Does a heat pump consume less energy than other heating units?

Yes. A heat pump consumes less energy than other heating units and costs less to operate.

In fact, a heat pump does not produce heat. It extracts air from the outside and carries it into the house. That is why it uses less energy to operate. It uses existing energy and moves it around.

For 1 watt of electricity consumed at an outdoor temperature of 8°C, an air-to-air heat pump releases 3 watts into your house. You therefore get 2 free watts of electricity.

Financial assistance for the installation or replacement of an eligible heat pump

You can receive financial assistance from the Rénoclimat, Novoclimat Homes and Novoclimat Small Multiple-Unit Buildings programs when you install an eligible heat pump. Hydro-Québec also provides financial assistance.

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