What you need to know about heat pumps

Heat pumps have been increasing in popularity over the last few years and for good reason. They have quickly become a way to make your home more comfortable all year long. Not to mention saving money on your energy bill and providing cleaner air for your family.

How does a heat pump work?

How a heat pump works

Heat pumps can heat your home in the winter and cool and dehumidify it in the summer which makes your home more comfortable and energy efficient all year round.

Think of a heat pump as being like your refrigerator but only in the reverse. Heat pumps transfer heat from one place to another. While your refrigerator transfers heat from inside the fridge to outside, (to keep the inside cool), a heat pump uses a small amount of energy to move heat that exists outside the house, to inside your home.

Even when it is really cold, there is heat available outside, which can be used to heat your home. This means that instead of generating heat from your electric baseboards, a heat pump can use electricity to provide more heat for less cost.

There are two parts of a heat pump – an inside unit and an outside unit – which work together as a system to transfer and distribute heat throughout your home.

Using your heat pump for cooling

In our climate we typically use heat pumps to heat our homes but, in the summer, they can be used to cool and dehumidify your house to make it more comfortable.

The cooling cycle reverses the heating process to transfer heat out of your home.

It’s important to remember that cooling your home does use energy, so be careful not to overuse this feature and decrease the energy savings you were expecting.

If your home does not require air conditioning, simply shut off your heat pump. As heat pumps still use electricity, use it only when needed for cooling and try other ways to keep your home cool.  Closing your windows and curtains during the hottest parts of the day or planting leafy trees in front of your windows to provide natural shade are some easy ways to keep your home cool.

Types of heat pumps

Most heat pumps installed in New Brunswick are air source which means they transfer heat from the outside air. There are two main types of air-source heat pumps, ducted systems and ductless or “mini-split” systems.

  • Ducted systems use forced-air ducting to distribute heating and cooling whereas mini-splits do not require a forced-air system.
  • Ductless mini-split systems are generally more affordable than ducted systems and are currently the most popular choice of homeowners in New Brunswick because most homes do not have an existing warm air ducting system.

How to maintain your heat pump for maximum efficiency

Most of the maintenance required for your heat pump can be done yourself with a step stool and hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner. You need to ensure the indoor unit is free of dust and dirt and the filters are kept clean. The outdoor unit should be free of tall grass, leaves and ice during the winter.

Every year you should hire a reputable contractor to inspect the operation of your heat pump. Although you should regularly clean the air filters of your device, over time dust will accumulate in the fan (blower wheel) and the coil of the indoor unit. This accumulation affects the efficiency of ventilation and the transfer of cold or heat from the indoor coil.

Energy savings

A heat pump can make your home more energy efficient and result in savings on your power bill. The actual savings in your home will depend on a number of factors, including the climate, the efficiency of your current system and the size and type of heat pump.

Need convincing to install a heat pump? They're up to 300% more efficient than electric baseboard heaters (and up to 50% more efficient for cooling compared to a typical window A/C unit).

Visit here to learn more about heat pump savings and other efficiency home upgrades.


What are the benefits to installing a heat pump?

Heat pumps can result in savings on your power bill and will make your home more comfortable all year long.

Are heat pumps expensive?

The cost of a heat pump will depend on many factors and to learn more check out our Total Home Energy Savings Program.

How can I learn more?

Our Total Home Energy Savings Program is a great source of information on efficiency upgrades on everything from insulation and air-sealing to high efficiency central heating systems to windows, doors, and more.