Some like it hot (or cold)

Did you know that a heat pump is a great energy-efficient alternative to a furnace and air conditioner? In fact, there are two common types: air source and ground source heat pumps.

Air-source heat pumps use long-proven technology to absorb heat from the outside air – even in cold temperatures – and move it inside the home to provide heat. The process also works in reverse when interior cooling is needed so there’s no need to install a separate air conditioning unit. They are the most common on the Canadian market, with over 700,000 installed units across the country.

Air-source heat pumps are generally composed of two parts: a “wall cassette” that is mounted inside your home, and a condenser unit that remains outside of your home. The heat pump’s wall cassette and condenser unit are connected by a refrigerant line.

In cooler months, the heat pump will turn on the fan in the outdoor unit to begin the process of extracting heat from the air outside of your home. The refrigerant line carries this heat to the indoor unit, which then transfers the heat to the air inside your home via a fan within the wall cassette. In cooling mode the process is reversed, transferring heat out of your home and returning cool air indoors.

Ground-source heat pumps (also called geothermal) pull heat from the earth, ground water, or both as the source of heat in the winter, and as a reservoir to reject heat removed from the home in the summer. While less commonly installed than air-source pumps, they are becoming more widely used in all provinces. They are generally composed of a ground heat exchanger used to add or remove thermal energy from the earth or ground and a heat pump that uses fluid flowing through the ground heat exchanger as their source for heating or cooling.

Since both types of heat pumps only use electricity for power rather than to generate heat, they offer a high-efficiency rate and will play a huge role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering energy costs from Ottawa’s homes and buildings in the years to come.

For example, as part of its commitment to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions from all its operations by 2040, the City of Ottawa recently installed cold-climate heat pumps at its Fitzroy Harbour and Dunrobin Community Centres. Cold-climate heat pumps are specifically designed to keep buildings warm even when it’s -20 degrees Celsius outside so they’re perfect for Ottawa’s cold winters.

Learn more about heat pumps:

Did you know that as a homeowner you can now receive up to $5,000 for the installation of a heat pump through the Canada Greener Homes Grant? Even better, heat pumps will also be eligible for financing through the City’s upcoming Better Homes Loan Program.

For more cost-friendly ways to manage your energy use at home this winter, check out some of our other low-cost energy tips.

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