Introduction - Heating and Cooling with a Heat Pump

If you are exploring the heating and cooling options for a new house or looking for ways to reduce your energy bills, you may be considering a heat pump. A heat pump can provide year-round climate control for your home by supplying heat to it in the winter and cooling it in the summer. Some types can also heat water.

In general, using a heat pump alone to meet all your heating needs may not be economical. However, used in conjunction with a supplementary form of heating, such as an oil, gas or electric furnace, a heat pump can provide reliable and economic heating in winter and cooling in summer. If you already have an oil or electric heating system, installing a heat pump may be an effective way to reduce your energy costs.

Nevertheless, it is important to consider all the benefits and costs before purchasing a heat pump. While heat pumps may have lower fuel costs than conventional heating and cooling systems, they are more expensive to buy. It is important to carefully weigh your anticipated fuel savings against the initial cost. It is also important to realize that heat pumps will be most economical when used year-round. Investing in a heat pump will make more sense if you are interested in both summer cooling and winter heating.

In addition to looking at cost, you should consider other factors. How much space will the equipment require? Will your supply of energy be interrupted on occasion? If so, how often? Will you need changes or improvements to your ducting system? How much servicing will the system need, and what will it cost?

Becoming fully informed about all aspects of home heating and cooling before making your final decision is the key to making the right choice. This booklet describes the most common types of heat pumps, and discusses the factors involved in choosing, installing, operating, and maintaining a heat pump. A brief section on the cost of operating different types of heat pumps and conventional electric heating systems is also included.

Energy Management in the Home

Heat pumps are very efficient heating and cooling systems and can significantly reduce your energy costs. However, there is little point in investing in an efficient heating system if your home is losing heat through poorly insulated walls, ceilings, windows and doors, and by air leakage through cracks and holes.

In many cases, it makes good sense to reduce air leakage and upgrade thermal insulation levels before buying or upgrading your heating system. A number of publications explaining how to do this are available from Natural Resources Canada.

Summer Cooling May Add to Energy Bills

Heat pumps supply heat to the house in the winter and cool the house in the summer. They require electricity to operate. If you add a heat pump to your heating system or convert from another fuel to a heat pump, and your old system was not equipped with central air conditioning, you may find that your electricity bills will be higher than before.

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