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Heat Pump FAQs

Heat Pump FAQs

You’ve got heat pump questions and we’ve got answers! Learn more about this green heating and cooling solution here…

  • A heat pump is actually an air conditioner that can also run in reverse. In summer, it transfers heat from inside your home to the outdoors, reversing this on cool fall and spring days to move heat from the outdoors back into your home.
  • The technology is the same as your refrigerator. Your fridge is a heat pump – it transfers heat from inside the unit, out. That is why the top and back of your refrigerator emit heat.
  • There are two kinds of heat pumps – air-source heat pumps transfer heat from the air, and ground-source heat pumps transfers heat from the ground. Reliance™ focuses on air-source heat pumps.
  • Heat pumps either come as units that work with your furnace in a ducted home or as ductless splits. They look just like AC units – the only difference is the outside condenser needs to be off the ground on a stand or wall bracket.

  • A Hybrid Heating System has a heat pump and a furnace working together to heat the home.
  • The heat pump provides heat until it is too cold outside to run efficiently at which point the system will switch over to the furnace.

Same concept, different equipment. Air-source transfers heat from the air, and ground-source (also known as geothermal) transfer heat from the ground. The ground-source heat pump is very expensive and complicated to install, so we focus on air-source.

Depending on the equipment, your heat pump can operate down to between. -25c and -30c.
They can work to these temps, but the colder it is outside, the harder it is for the heat pump to warm the home. The amount of heat a heat pump can emit decreases with the lowering temps outside.

All customers should have a backup heat source. However, customers in warmer parts of BC and possibly areas of Southern Ontario in milder climate zones like Niagara could benefit from heat pumps for the majority of the year.

  • Heat pump efficiency
  • Backup heat source efficiency/fuel
  • Back up heat source fuel rates/cleanliness
  • Electricity Rates
  • You are changing to your backup heat for one of these reasons…
      • CO2 reduction
      • Energy Cost Savings
      • CO2 savings at current energy costs

  • Yes. Heat Pumps have a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating because they also operate as air conditioners. SEER is like km/litre for your car – the higher, the better.
  • HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor) is the heating version of SEER and measures the heat pump’s efficiency when it is in heating mode.
  • CoP (Coefficient of Performance) is the ratio of heat is added to the home compared to the power used by the heat pump at a given temperature. The colder it gets outside, the less efficient your heat pump becomes.

Yes, they will! A heat pump will be effective for you in spring and fall – you will just use your backup heat source more than if the climate is more temperate.

Your heat pump condenser may accumulate some ice if the temperature dives outside. The heat pump has an easy, automatic way to deal with this – it will go into defrost mode, and temporarily reverse itself – working as an air conditioner to send heat to the condenser coils and melt the ice. It will switch back into heating mode once the ice melts.

No – on the outside, they look just like an AC. However, they have some internal differences. The main difference is that the condenser needs to be off the ground on a stand to help with ice shedding.

Heat pumps transfer heat vs creating it. Transferring heat uses less electricity than an electric heater that produces heat.

The installation is similar; however, there are some differences. The heat pump must be installed on a stand to raise it off the ground, and this space allows the heat pump to shed any ice it may accumulate when it is colder outside. Some additional requirements include programming the point at which you want your heat pump to switch over to your backup heating system.

Yes and No. It depends on why you are considering a heat pump. If you have natural gas and your only consideration is saving money, then yes, the price of natural gas vs electricity in your area will determine if you should get a heat pump. If you want to do your part to help the environment by reducing carbon emissions, then the price of natural gas may not be the only factor you consider.

Be sure to look for government rebates for your area. Visit our Rebates page first.

Our heat pumps run on electricity – when it gets too cold outside for them to run efficiently, you would switch over to your backup heat source, which may be a gas furnace to heat your home. If it is compatible with the home heating system, a smart thermostat like the ecobee Smart Thermostat can make that switch automatically.

This is a complicated question because it depends on many factors, including:

    • The efficiency of your heat pump
    • The efficiency of your furnace
    • The outdoor temperature
    • The changeover set point

In milder months, you could eliminate your furnace usage completely and only heat with electricity; however, during frigid periods, you may only use your gas furnace.

Be sure to look for government rebates for your area. Visit our Rebates page first.

Many gas fireplaces are considered decorative appliances and are not considered a primary heat source, and a heat pump would not replace these. If the fireplace is a central heat source, then a ductless heat pump could help replace the usage of the fireplace, with the fireplace becoming the backup heat source.

One and the same! An air-source heat pump comes in two forms – one that works with a furnace in a house with ducts or as ductless split units for homes that don’t have ducts. Ductless units are also very convenient for spaces like an addition that you want to heat or cool.

Here’s some simplified science! Heat pump technology works on the same basic principles which also govern how most air conditioners, refrigerators, deep freezers and other cooling equipment work.

The refrigerant in a heat pump can move in both directions – in and out. When it is cold out, the refrigerant flows through an expansion valve, where it evaporates into a gas and becomes colder than the outside air. Heat energy naturally wants to move to a colder place. That is how the refrigerant can absorb the heat energy from cold air – because the refrigerant is colder. The refrigerant then moves back inside, where it condenses back to a liquid and releases the heat energy into your home. Fluid absorbs heat when it evaporates into a gas and gives off heat when it condenses back into a liquid. Pretty cool, huh?

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