Heat pumps are a heating and cooling system installed outside your home. Similar to an air conditioner, it can cool your home, but it’s also capable of providing heat. Living in Vancouver, it’s easy to see how this would be useful during both the cold and warmer months.
The best part? They can also save you money.
However, they don’t come cheap. Fortunately, with government and utility rebates, Vancouverites can now save up 80% on the cost of a new energy efficient home heating and cooling system
How Heat Pumps Work
A heat pump is a refrigeration device, meaning it is a device that is capable of moving heat from a cool location to a warmer location.
It works a lot like the refrigerator in your kitchen, which removes heat from the air inside and releases it in a coil located behind or beneath the unit. It also works a lot like a home air conditioner. The difference is a heat pump can work in reverse to heat your home in the winter in addition to cooling it in the summer.
Unlike a gas furnace or boiler, a heat pump runs on electricity. Since our electricity comes from BC Hydro, a heat pump can help reduce your home’s greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the average gas furnace creates more greenhouse gas emissions each year than the average car.
This is why the government is encouraging homeowners to replace their heating systems with heat pumps by offering huge incentives.
Heat Pump Energy Savings
Heat pumps can produce up to four watts of heat for each watt of electricity consumed. They can reduce your heating costs significantly,, especially after rising carbon taxes increase the cost of natural gas in the future.
Air Source vs. Ground Source Heat Pumps
An air source heat pump looks similar to a home air conditioner, and will exchange heat with the outdoor air. A ground source (or geothermal) heat pump will use a network of pipes to exchange heat with the ground outside your home.
Although ground source systems are slightly more efficient, we recommend air source units since they are less expensive and easier to install.
According to BC Hydro, an air-source heat pump (ASHP) is the best option.
Ductless vs. Central Heat Pumps
A central heat pump system is for homes that have a furnace that circulates air through ducts. Only one indoor unit will be required to replace the furnace.
Ductless heat pumps (also known as mini-split heat pumps) are for homes that currently have boilers. Since the piping that is used by a boiler is incompatible with a heat pump, indoor units (or “heads”) must be installed to circulate the heated or cooled air.
Types of Rebates
Federal Greener Homes Grant: Up to $5,000 rebate
The federal government’s Greener Homes Grant provides grants of $2,500- $5,000 on heat pump installations.
To qualify for the maximum $5,000 grant you will need to install a qualifying “cold climate heat pump”, which has the capacity to heat your home at temperatures well below freezing.
The lesser $2,500 and $4,000 rebates have slightly lower efficiency requirements. The $2,500 rebate also only requires two indoor units if you install a ductless system, whereas the larger rebates require three indoor units or a central system.
CleanBC and BC Hydro rebates: Save up to $6,000 more
The provincial CleanBC program also has rebates of up to $3,000 available. Systems that qualify for the Greener Homes Grant will typically qualify for the maximum $3,000 CleanBC rebate.
Plus, if you get your electricity from BC Hydro, they will add another $3,000 to your rebate.
Municipal Rebates: Up to $6,000 more for Vancouver and North Shore residents
The City of Vancouver is adding an additional $6,000 “top-up” heat pump rebate. That means up to $17,000 in total rebates. Plus you can get $500 more if your home requires an electrical service upgrade. This may be required if you live in an older home that doesn’t have the electrical capacity for a heat pump, especially if you also have an electric car or high electrical requirements for other reasons.
Residents of the District of North Vancouver or the City of North Vancouver can receive an extra $2,000 rebate, for a total of up to $13,000. These cities are also providing the $500 electrical service top-up.
In the City of Vancouver, the total rebates cannot exceed 80% of the installed cost, meaning a minimum cost of $21,250 for the system.
It might sound too good to be true to get the majority of the cost back on a new heating and cooling system. These rebates may not last long, as a limited number are available. Rebates in the District of West Vancouver and the Township of Langley have already expired, so don’t delay if you think a heat pump might be right for you.
Learn more about heat pumps at Good Guys Heating, Cooling & Plumbing’s heat pumps page.
You can also call 604 GOOD GUY (604-466-3489) to schedule a free in-home quotation for a heat pump.
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