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Heat Pumps are Here to Stay
Tom Rand – Walker Climate Care
For some of us, terms like heat pumps or mini-split have become second nature; we’ve grown up with them and are very comfortable understanding what they are, and what they do. For a lot of us though, it’s an unfamiliar technology – and that can be intimidating. If we don’t know what it is, then why should we care? The answer is simple; it can benefit us through energy savings, and therefore cost reduction and environmental friendliness.
In a centrally ducted home, a heat pump looks almost identical to a standard air conditioner. It’s placed outside and connects to a coil that’s installed on top of your furnace inside the ductwork. It operates the same way too, using a closed loop refrigeration system to keep your home cool during warmer weather. The big difference from your standard AC and a heat pump is that the heat pump has a reversing valve which allows it to switch the roles of the outdoor condensing coil and the indoor evaporator coil so it can generate heat. Yes, it can both heat and cool your home!
Heat pumps are also available for use in homes that aren’t centrally ducted. These sort of heat pumps are also often referred to as mini-splits or ductless systems. They use indoor heads connected the outdoor motor to create one or more zones of heating and cooling.
Heat pumps aren’t without limitations. They depend on the temperature of the outdoor air. In extremely cold winter weather, they work less efficiently. There are cold climate-rated heat pumps that do better in these conditions. What’s important for you to know is that a heat pump can be a great secondary source of heat that’s efficient, and green, but it’s not without limits – so make sure you get professional advice if you’re considering this. Be sure to ask about the Greener Homes Grant program from Natural Resources Canada; it could save you up to $5,000 off your equipment purchase, in addition to the savings you’ll enjoy with lower energy costs and less carbon tax!
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