May 18, 2022
As a matter of fact, they are. Heat pump technology has been around for almost 200 years. The big deal here though, is the Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pump. These units will be responsible for the dawn of a new age in heating and cooling your home. Even up in the great white north.
Heat Pumps are often thought of as a great solution for heating in more mild climates. Think south of the border where the winter isn't quite as bad as we have it up here in Canada. But it's a lesser known fact that modern heat pumps can brave the cold, just like we can. The confusing metric system has many believing that -15 is the cap for these units when it comes to efficient and effective heating, which for us in Canada just doesn't quite cut it. These units are manufactured in a world thats most popular system is imperial. So -15F is actually like a number were more used to, -30C. Not one that we like, just one that were used to. The modern Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pump (CCASHP) can operate in these insane temperatures as well as your average Canadian, if not better. They can achieve all electric heating for your home without the crazy cost of traditional electric heat (I'm talking about the baseboard heaters or space heaters we pull out when the gas furnace breaks down).
Ok let's get fancy. These CCASHPs are measured a little differently than your traditional gas furnace. A furnaces efficiency is rated based on the percentage of the fuel it burns, which is converted to heat. Simple example: a top-of-the-line gas furnace would be 95+% efficient. This means for every 1 unit of gas it burns we get 0.95 units of heat. Pretty impressive right? Hold my beer. The CCASHP can be compared to these ratings by using the Coefficient Of Performance (COP). Told you we were getting fancy.
The COP is the equivalent measurement that a furnace uses to gauge its efficiency. Remember that impressive 0.95 units of heat we get for each unit of gas we burn with our furnaces? The Heat Pump might knock this one out of the park. CCASHPs have a COP of 3.5!! Let me break that down for you. For every unit of electricity that a heat pump uses, it gives you 3.5 units of heat. That translates to a 350% efficiency rating! Insane. Welcome to the future of residential heating.
The Government has been rolling out new grant programs to help get Ontario's homeowners onto the heat pump train. The downside to these units are that they're still expensive in comparison to just having your gas furnace swapped out for another gas burning system. Which sucks because that unit will likely continue to pump CO into the atmosphere for another 20 years. That is why they're incentivizing homeowners with a cool $6500 cheque to bring the cost down. So lets compare the cost.
You wake up on a beautiful Saturday morning and BAM the house is cold. The darn 25 year old furnace in your basement broke down! Can you believe it? Aren't those things suppose to last forever? They're not. Typically, they have a 15-20 year lifespan, if you're lucky.
Time for a new furnace, chances are, it's also time for a new AC. That or you can take your chances trying to get one installed in the hellish heat we get in Toronto when it follows your furnace to the grave. You call around and get 3 quotes like every good home owner does. You've got a ballpark. $5000 for the furnace and another $4000-$5000 for your shiny new AC. Basically, you're looking at a $10,000 bill. Not nice. Here's the bad news, swapping a heat pump into your existing duct system is going to run you about 14 grand in Toronto. No takers? Yeah, they thought so too, this is where the $6500 comes in.
Well would you look at that! We've got a choice to make here. $10,000 for a fuel burning Windows 3.1 equivalent with no help from Uncle Sam, or $7500 for a top-of-the-line, eco-friendly, Lamborghini heat pumping extravaganza! Ok yeah, I'm getting carried away. The point is, you're actually getting a better system both for you and for the environment for less. It's cheaper and it's better. How ofter does that happen?
If you made it this far, I hope you enjoyed the read. Remember, the Heat Pump train is leaving the station, so when your furnace eventually does die, consider a heat pump as its replacement. As my wise friend Andrew once said "Choo Choo Choose the environment!".