Are you heat pump curious? Maybe you have noticed one of these skinny gray boxes hanging off the side of a building and wonder how it works. Or perhaps you want to know more about heat pumps and their rebates before getting one for your home. There’s lots to learn about this new heating and cooling technology.
A wave of heat pumps has been sweeping across the city of London, and many homeowners are taking advantage of government rebates to get their own heat pump on the cheap. Donaldson Home Services, which recently won the Medium Business of the Year from the London Chamber of Commerce, explains heat pumps and their rebates.
Maybe you have heard whispers around your neighborhood, or even throughout the city, of a new green technology heating Canadian homes. However, “new,” is not quite the right term to describe heat pump technology, because it has actually been around since the 1970s. It just never saw widespread adoption in southwestern Ontario. Maritime provinces, which have much milder and temperate winter seasons, have been using heat pumps for quite some time now.
Recently, heat pump technology has advanced to a point where they are now a reliable and efficient way to heat your home in much cooler temperatures. Many Ontarians are now taking advantage of the environmental and often cost savings benefits of the new cold climate heat pumps.
Before learning about the environmental and economic benefits of Heat Pumps, it’s beneficial to understand how they work. To start with, there are actually two kinds of heat pumps; ductless systems and hybrid systems. Both are excellent ways to heat and cool with the correct application.
A ductless heat pump has two parts that work together to heat and cool a home. The outdoor unit that sits outside your home and the indoor blower head(s) that sits on the wall of the room you are looking to adjust the temperature in. Depending on the type of heat pump, multiple indoor heads can be installed in multiple rooms and even levels of a home. In a simple sense, it operates like a reverse AC.
What makes it “ductless” is the ability for the heat pump to work in applications where there is no ductwork. Think of an apartment unit which rarely has ductwork. In this particular application, the heat pump often sits on the apartment’s balcony or is attached to the side of the building via a steel wall bracket. There are also other applications of a ductless split, another name for it, like to heat/cool a garage, workshop, attic loft, or any room that does not have ductwork leading to it. This flexible technology allows you to enjoy full comfort control in any room, so long as the equipment can tap into an electrical breaker.
Heat pumps work a lot like an air conditioner, but simply reverse the process to generate heat in the winter and the cooling you would expect in the summer. Using electricity, a heat pump grabs the latent heat energy in the outside air to help in the cooling or heating process. This is a very energy efficient way to adjust the comfort of your home. Depending on the cooling or heating demand requested by the thermostat, a home can be heated or cooled using renewable electricity that powers the refrigerated gas process, which in turn produces the hot or cold air for your home. Since the gas is put under extreme pressure, it generates enough energy to produce hot or cold energy, which is transferred to the passing air.
In summary, the outdoor unit sitting in your backyard is powered by electricity and uses pressurized gases to produce the desired outcome, which is then blown back into the home via the blower head on the wall or the blower motor in your forced air-furnace.
The major difference between a hybrid and a ductless heat pump system is the presence of a furnace and therefore the ductwork running through the home can be utilized to distribute the hot or cold air from the heat pump. This means that both the heat pump and the furnace are used together to heat, and cool the home. This is where it gets its name as a hybrid heating system.
In this case, the furnace with its blower motor & heat pump work as a tag team duo. When a higher temperature of heat is needed, the smart-thermostat, the command center of the systems, can turn on the furnace and burn natural gas to generate a hotter heat. But, when a lower temperature of heat is needed, the thermostat chooses to use the heat pump’s milder heat for the home, which is more energy efficient and therefore cost saving.
The outdoor heat pump unit is placed next to the house, preferably away from the home’s windows, to reduce the noise level coming back into the home. But, in general, heat pumps are no louder than an AC, and depending on the model, have an even lower decibel rating.
The heat pump operates in the exact same way as described in the ductless application.
The cooling portion of the heat pump uses the outdoor unit to generate cool air, which is blown into the home’s ductwork, and in turn, is distributed with the blower motor located in the furnace. This is the exact same operation older AC units have worked since the dawn of the HVAC trade industry.
A fully electric heating and cooling ductless heat pump system does not use gas, which means your home’s comfort does not have a carbon footprint. Keep in mind that a ductless system tends to be used in smaller and typically newer homes where there is excellent insulation and far less heating/cooling is lost. In a larger home, a single ductless heat pump, even with multiple blower heads, may not provide the desired level of heating for the homeowner’s comfort.
In terms of energy savings, there will always be a tension between cost and being eco-friendly. For example, keeping your thermostat at 25 in the summer is better on your wallet and footprint than keeping it at 23. With a heat pump, it does take less energy to produce the cooled air to reach 23, but to reach warmer temperature on a very cold day, it takes a lot of electricity and any savings or efficiency is lost, especially with older homes.
Some bigger and older homes lose heating and cooling much easier. In this case, a fully electric ductless heat pump would struggle to keep the home comfortable in both hot and cold weather. That is why we recommend a hybrid heat pump system for larger homes since most already have a forced air gas-fired furnace and you are simply replacing your AC with a heat pump. This way, you still save energy on less cold days of the year by running your heat pump because you are not firing up your gas furnace.
Overall, the home is reducing its use of natural gas during the shoulder seasons, which are the months where it is neither hot nor cold, but just cool outside. We would also like to mention that as the climate shifts to warmer temperatures, which were traditionally cold months, there are going to be many days during the winter when a heat pump will be all you need to warm your home.
Every day you use your heat pump to fully heat your home, you are saving on your gas bill and reducing your carbon footprint. But, when there are very cold days in winter, using your gas furnace to heat your home becomes the more efficient option in terms of cost because the heat pump will have to use far too much electricity to achieve the same heating effect.
Keeping an eye on the price of hydro and natural gas may also help inform the homeowner which piece of equipment to run to heat the home.
There are two different paths for Londoners to get a rebate for adding a heat pump to their home and both require the homeowner to book an energy audit from the outset. Donaldson Home Services can assist or recommend the booking of an audit with an Energy Auditing Firm, but we do not do them ourselves—they’re busy enough installing heat pumps as is!
The energy auditor is approved by the government, and they look at your whole home for where it can be improved in terms of energy efficiency. This is where a heat pump will be recommended for a home and a rebate ranging from $5,000 to $6,500 can be obtained after the installation of a heat pump is complete.
To receive the rebate, a post-audit needs to be conducted to confirm the installation was in accordance with the rebate rules and the turnaround on the rebate takes about four weeks.
The different kinds of rebates:
Home Energy Rebate Plus (HER+) this rebate is administered by Enbridge Gas and funded by the Federal government. Any homeowner can qualify for the HER+ rebate for a variety of home improvements.
Enbridge Clean Home Initiative (London Only) is a rebate funded and administered by Enbridge Gas and only applies to specific brands from specific contractors. (Ex. Donaldson Home Services installs Daikin Heat Pumps).
There is also a Greener Homes Loan that homeowners can qualify for, but is a longer process since you are borrowing money from the Federal Government. You should consult with an energy auditing company before applying for this loan as they can speed up the loan process.
Donaldson Home Services Providing London with Over $2 Million In Rebates in 2023
The folks over at Donaldson have installed so many ductless splits and hybrid heat pump systems that they have saved London home owners over $2 million in rebates so far in 2023. That’s a lot of heat being pumped into homes across the city. What makes Donaldson different is they have professional & friendly staff, transparent no strings attached sales, and guaranteed workmanship. This is all backed by the best HVAC warranties not only in London, but in Ontario. Do it with Donaldson and feel the difference a trusted trades company provides in your home.