The Truth About Heat Pumps

The Truth About Heat Pumps – A Canadian Contractors Perspective

The big questions most home owners have about heat pumps is, will they really save me up to 60% on my heating bill?

The answer yes, but………..

Here is what you need to be aware of before you make the investment;

There is much controversy weather or not heat pumps should be installed in our Canadian Climate, let’s face it we are not living in north Texas which is the general area in which most of these central heat pump systems are being built today. We are living in a much more harsh environment therefore we need to be sure that our heat pumps are kept clear of snow and ice and even completely shut off during extreme blowing snow and ice to avoid system failures.

Another confusing factor is the temperature to which these units are rated. Most of these units are rated in “zone 4” conditions while most of us Canadians, like us located here in the Maritimes are located in “zone 5” conditions in which most of these units are currently not even tested as of yet. Don’t be miss lead by this. If a unit is rated for -30C chances are that by the time we get down at the -15C or -20C temp range there is no more savings to be had and we are better off to be turning the unit off at that point and simply relying on our back-up heat source. Back-up heat is an absolute requirement when you live in Canada, don’t think you can get by without any. Another benefit to turning your unit off in these conditions is you will experience less service related issues which can be very costly and your unit will last much longer by not being put to the extreme workout at those harsh lower temperatures.

These have become so popular that most people know someone who is installing them. Warning if they are not installed correctly they will fail within the first 2-5 years and your smoke and mirrors, 10 year promise of a warranty is only as good as the guy who sold it to you. Almost daily we get calls at our office from angry clients who have been taken advantage of and left with huge repair bills or worse having to do it all over again, the person who sold and installed it can’t be reached and isn’t returning their calls. This is a common occurrence these days!

In my opinion heat pumps are great but…… only if they are sized correctly (bigger is not better!), installed correctly, maintained at least annually with deep coil cleaning every 3-5 years, shut off below -15C to -20C and kept free and clear of snow and ice after every storm. If you can handle this maintenance go for it! If this kind of maintenance is not for you, then stick with a simple gas or propane central or ductless furnace and A/C only options to enjoy twice the longevity of your investment, smaller more consistent savings and far less headaches and expensive repairs. Gas furnaces and A/C only units will usually last twice as long as a heat pump.

Please feel free to visit our website online www.etmechanical.ca and download a free consumer’s awareness guide which dives much deeper in to these topics and warns of the pit falls associated when shopping for heat pumps.

Tom Taylor