Heat Pumps

With J. D. Swallow’s Experienced Heat Pumps Repair Services, They’ll Keep Your Pumps Operating At Peak Condition, You’ll Always Be Comfortable

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About Heat Pumps

Unlike traditional HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) systems that generate warm or cool air, a heat pump regulates indoor temperatures by moving heat from one place to another. In the winter, a heat pump extracts heat from the outside air and brings it into your home, while in the summer, it removes heat from your home and expels it outside, aka an air conditioner. Like the technology used for refrigerators and air conditioners, heat pumps work by using a refrigerant to absorb and release heat as it cycles through the system. 

Types of Heat Pumps

There are several types of heat pumps available, each designed to suit specific applications and operating conditions. Here are the most common types: 

 

  1. Air-Source Heat Pumps (ASHP): Air-source heat pumps extract heat from the outdoor air and transfer it indoors to provide heating during colder months. They can also operate in reverse during warmer months to provide cooling by removing heat from indoor air and transferring it outside. ASHPs are popular for residential and commercial applications due to their versatility and relatively lower installation costs. 
  2. Ground-Source Heat Pumps (GSHP), also known as Geothermal Heat Pumps: Ground-source heat pumps utilize the stable temperature of the ground or groundwater as a heat source in winter and a heat sink in summer. They consist of underground loops filled with a heat-transfer fluid that absorbs heat from the ground and carries it to the heat pump unit. GSHPs are highly efficient but often require more upfront investment and space for installation. 
  3. Water-Source Heat Pumps (WSHP): Water-source heat pumps extract heat from a water source such as a lake, river, or well, and transfer it to the building’s heating system. They operate similarly to ground-source heat pumps but utilize water instead of soil as a heat source. WSHPs are commonly used in commercial buildings, particularly those located near water bodies. 
  4. Hybrid Heat Pumps: Hybrid heat pumps combine the technology of air-source heat pumps with a backup heating system, typically a gas furnace. These systems automatically switch between the heat pump and furnace based on outdoor temperatures and energy costs, optimizing efficiency and comfort. 
  5. Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pumps: Ductless mini-split heat pumps consist of an outdoor unit connected to one or more indoor air-handling units via refrigerant lines. They are ideal for heating and cooling individual rooms or zones without the need for ductwork. Ductless mini splits offer flexibility, energy efficiency, and zoning capabilities. 
  6. Absorption Heat Pumps: Absorption heat pumps use a heat source, such as natural gas, propane, or solar energy, to power a refrigeration cycle that provides heating and cooling. These systems are less common in residential applications but are used in some commercial and industrial settings. 

Each type of heat pump has its own advantages and considerations in terms of efficiency, installation requirements, operating costs, and suitability for different climates and building types. Consulting with a qualified HVAC professional can help determine the best heat pump solution for specific needs and circumstances. 

cold climate heat pump

Advantages of Cold Climate Heat Pumps

While a regular heat pump is designed to work in mild climates, it can struggle to provide sufficient heating capacity in colder climates, especially during extreme winter conditions. For homeowners in Ottawa, a cold climate heat pump is often a better choice. Here’s why: 

  1. Temperature Range: Cold climate heat pumps can effectively heat your home even when outside temperatures are as low as -30°C, ensuring that your home stays warm on the coldest winter days. 
  2. Cold Weather Performance: Cold climate heat pumps incorporate advanced technologies such as variable-speed compressors, larger heat exchangers, and improved insulation so that they’re able to support efficient heating performance even during the colder weather. They can extract heat from the outdoor air even when temperatures drop significantly below freezing, providing reliable heating without the need for supplemental heating sources. 
  3. Defrosting Capability: Cold climate heat pumps are equipped with advanced defrosting systems to minimize frost buildup on the outdoor unit’s coils during cold weather operation. These systems help support optimal heat transfer efficiency and prevent performance degradation in freezing conditions. 
  4. Energy Efficiency: While both regular and cold climate heat pumps are designed to be energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions, cold climate heat pumps often have higher efficiency ratings in colder climates due to their specialized components and design features. This allows them to provide consistent heating performance while consuming less energy, resulting in lower utility bills. 
  5. Durability and Reliability: Cold climate heat pumps are built with stronger components and materials that can withstand harsh winter conditions, including extreme temperatures, snow, and ice. They undergo rigorous testing to ensure durability and reliability in cold climate environments, offering homeowners peace of mind and long-term performance. 

How Heat Pumps Work in Canada

While both regular heat pumps and cold climate heat pumps provide efficient heating and cooling, cold climate heat pumps are specifically engineered to deliver reliable performance in colder climates, making them an ideal choice for homeowners in regions like Ottawa, that experience harsh winter weather. 

Benefits of a Heat Pump  

Energy Efficiency: Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling by using electricity to transfer heat rather than generate it, resulting in lower energy bills. According to Natural Resources Canada, a heat pump can be up to 2.5 times more efficient than a gas furnace, with up to $500 in annual heating savings in some regions. 

Cost Savings: Heat pumps provide long-term cost savings through lower energy bills and reduced maintenance expenses in comparison to gas furnaces. With energy prices on the rise, choosing a heat pump is a smart way to save money on your heating and cooling bills. 

Environmental Impact / EER ratings: Put simply, heat pumps are much easier on the environment than gas furnaces because they don’t burn fuel. They run solely on electricity, which can be sourced from renewable energy, resulting in significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions. 

Rebates & Incentives: If you’re considering a heat pump for your home, the Canada Greener Homes Loan program offers homeowners an opportunity to invest in energy-efficient home upgrades with interest-free financing options. Through the program, eligible homeowners can access loans between $5,000 to $40,000 for up to 10 years, to fund improvements such as better insulation, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, and upgraded windows and doors. By taking part in the Canada Greener Homes Loan program, homeowners not only contribute to environmental conservation but also benefit from lower energy bills, increased home comfort, and enhanced property value. 

The Canada Green Buildings Strategy Discussion Paper cover image

Tips on Applying for Greener Buildings Strategy

  1. Before you apply, check to see if you’re eligible 
  2. Complete a pre-retrofit EnerGuide assessment with a registered energy advisor 
  3. Get a quote from your contractor for the retrofit recommendations 
  4. Apply for the loan prior to starting any of the retrofit work 
  5. Once approved you can receive up to 15% of the loan to pay the deposit and go ahead with the retrofit 
  6. When all the retrofit work has been completed, a follow-up EnerGuide assessment needs to be sent with your invoice to receive the rest of the loan

Need assistance with your application for the loan, or unsure of which HVAC equipment qualifies? Contact JD Swallow Heating and Cooling for a consultation. Our comfort advisors are here to help guide you through every step of the process. 

Is a Heat Pump Right for You? 

Assessing Your Heating and Cooling Needs: There are several things to consider when assessing whether a heat pump is right for you. Although a heat pump replacement for your current HVAC system may not provide the perfect heating and cooling solution, the technology can be useful for upgrades or to supplement parts of your existing system. 

Compatibility with Existing HVAC Systems: Homes with existing ductwork can often be retrofitted to accommodate a heat pump, but in cases where that’s not possible, the ductless mini-split system is more versatile. These heat pump systems don’t require any ducts and are suitable for heating and cooling rooms that the main HVAC system doesn’t reach. Ductless systems are also an excellent alternative to central air conditioning, as they run separate from your heating system. 

Installation Considerations: While proper insulation and air sealing are important for maximum efficiency with any HVAC system, it becomes more critical with a heat pump system. Heat pumps work most efficiently at a constant low-level temperature, rather than turning on and off throughout the day. If there are gaps in your home where the outside air can come in, or the inside air can get out, your heat pump will lose some of its efficiency, undermining the cost savings you wish to benefit from. 

Comfort and Efficiency: Because heat pumps transfer heat rather than generate it, they can reduce your electricity use by up to 65% while providing an even supply of heat or cool air that keeps your indoor temperatures at a constant comfort level. No more hot and cold spots to contend with, not to mention that without the sounds of your HVAC turning on and off, your home also becomes a peaceful, tranquil oasis. 

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Environmental Impact  

Reducing Carbon Footprint: In comparison to traditional heating systems like furnaces or boilers which burn fossil fuels to produce heat, heat pumps use electricity to transfer heat and require less energy to provide the same level of heating or cooling. This increased efficiency reduces the overall demand for energy and helps lower the emissions associated with energy production. Therefore, the carbon footprint of electricity decreases, further reducing the environmental impact of heat pump operation. 

The Role of Heat Pumps in Combatting Climate Change: As the world transitions towards cleaner energy sources and renewable technologies, governments and policymakers around the world are increasingly recognizing the importance of heat pumps in combating climate change. Incentives, rebates, and regulatory measures are being implemented to promote the adoption of heat pump technology and accelerate the transition away from fossil fuel-based heating systems. 

Sustainable Practices: Overall, by investing in heat pump technology, you’re contributing to long-term sustainability by doing your part to help reduce energy consumption and minimize environmental impact over your system’s lifespan. Heat pumps are durable, reliable, and require minimal maintenance, making them a sustainable choice for heating and cooling buildings for many years to come. 

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Financing Options & Incentives

When you need to replace your system or want to upgrade to a more energy efficient heating and cooling method, JD Swallow is proudly partnered with FinanceIt, an industry leader in financial solutions for home improvements. With FinanceIt, we can help you purchase the best solution for your home through affordable financing. FinanceIt provides fast, fair and budget-friendly payment options to meet your needs.

If you’re looking for a reliable heat pump installer in Ottawa, JD Swallow Heating and Cooling is here for you. Our team of experienced sales consultants can help you choose the right heat pump for your home and provide professional installation services. We also offer maintenance and repair services to keep your heat pump running smoothly. 

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For more information about our Heat Pumps service or to schedule a service, call us at (613) 822-7974 or visit our contact page.

FAQs

The short answer is YES. You will always see value in owning a heat pump. A heat pump does not have to create the heat. The heat already exists, so the heat pump only uses energy to move that heat into your home. But, in order to assess which actual heat pump is best for you there are a number of things we must do.

The first step is to do a Heat Loss/Heat Gain calculation. We need to know how much heat your house needs on the coldest day of the year in order to keep the indoor temperature at a comfortable +21C. Part of our consultation is to do a proper load calculation. This is also commonly referred to as a Manual J calculation, or a Design Heat Loss.

Secondly, we need to look at different heat pump models, sizes, and outputs in order to come up with the best solution for your home. There are many different heat pumps on the market, some are standard heat pumps while others are cold climate heat pumps. There are heat pumps for small houses and heat pumps for really big houses, and everything in between.

Lastly, once we know how much heat your house needs on the coldest day of the year, and how much heat the selected heat pumps will provide we will be able to calculate your balance point temperature. This is the most important temperature that we need to know. This is the temperature at which your heat pump will be able to provide you with all the heat you need without needing supplemental heat. This is different from the shut off point.

Manufacturers will provide us with the shut off point for specific heat pumps. For example, Heat Pump “X” may be able to run to temperatures as low as -30 C. This means that that specific heat pump will continue to operate and provide heat down to temperatures as low as-30 C. But when the temperature drops to -31 C, that heat pump will shut itself down because it’s just too darn cold to run.

Manufacturers are not able provide a balance point temperature and that is because every house is unique… so every house has a different balance point. Newer homes or smaller homes with more insulation, better windows, and a tighter building envelope don’t need as much heat. Alternatively larger homes and older homes that have not been updated will require more heat. As such every heat pump make, model, and size will have a different effect on the bottom line, on how much heat it will produce, on how much energy you will save, and satisfied you will be with your new purchase. Let us show you how an engineered approach to selecting your heat pump will ensure your new heat pump will meet your expectations.

Once we have calculated your Design Heat Loss and selected a few heat pumps models and sizes we will be able to plot the output of these heat pumps, to calculate their balance points, and to provide you with options so that you can make the best choice for your needs.

“If you hear from someone that tells you their heat pump is going to work great for you without taking the time to fully understand your home, to assess your comfort needs and to actually do the calculations, then they are either naïve or trying to make a sale. All Heat Pumps Are Not Created Equal.”  (Call out, please place where you see fit)

There are several ways to address this. Often the heat pump can be coupled to an existing HVAC system whereby in other scenarios the heat pump will completely replace the existing heating and cooling system.

If you have a centrally ducted heating and cooling system, in other words you have duct work, then you will likely want to consider a heat pump that is going to work with your existing ductwork. If this is the case you may choose to go for a dual fuel system whereby the heat pump will be coupled to your existing furnace, if it is newer and compatible, or coupled to a new furnace. A dual fuel system is often referred to as a hybrid heat pump system. Another choice may be to eliminate fossil fuels altogether and to opt for a full heat pump system. This system will consist of a cold climate heat pump coupled to any electric furnace.

If you do not have duct work as you live in a home with electric baseboards or with a hot water boiler system, then a ductless style heat pump will be a logical choice. This style of heat pump has been designed specifically for houses like yours. This allows you to use your heat pump in lieu of your baseboards or boiler for much of the heating season. This can result in considerable savings on your energy bills.

Once we have calculated your Design Heat Loss and selected a few heat pumps models and sizes we will be able to plot the output of these heat pumps, to calculate their balance points, and to provide you with options so that you can make the best choice for your needs.

“If you hear from someone that tells you their heat pump is going to work great for you without taking the time to fully understand your home, to assess your comfort needs and to actually do the calculations, then they are either naïve or trying to make a sale. All Heat Pumps Are Not Created Equal.”  (Call out, please place where you see fit)

One of the most fantastic things about a heat pump is their ability to provide both heating and cooling. Naturally when in heating mode, they are using the heat that already exists so they are heating out homes at a fantastically efficient rate, with no carbon emissions. Because cold climate heat pumps modulate at rates between 100% down to 25% of their full capacity they only use as much energy as they need at a given moment. Cold climate heat pumps use inverters. These operate differently than traditional heat pump systems.

A standard heat pump, the kind of heat pump that you might have found on a home 20 years ago, and unfortunately still exist today, do not provide the same level of comfort, efficiency, and output of today’s cold climate heat pumps. When these heat pumps turn on, they draw full power from the grid. Whether it is extremely cold outside or only moderately cold they are drawing the same large amount of electricity. Yes, they will produce heat for you, but they are using a lot of electricity. Some newer single stage and 2-stage heat pumps use what is called a thermal expansion valve. What this does is that it restricts the flow of refrigerant to and from the outdoor unit, aka the heat pump, and the indoor unit known as the coil. This has a marginal effect on the efficiency of the heat pump and that it is kind of like driving your car with your gas pedal floored and using your brake to regulate your speed. Because cold climate heat pumps use inverters, they were able to start off at a low rate an increase only when required. To use the car analogy, it is like just tapping the gas pedal when you need a little more. As a result, these are the most efficient heat pumps on the market.

On top of that, one of the most wonderful things about a cold climate heat pump is their ability to maintain an optimal balance between temperature and humidity in the cooling season. Often homeowners will complain their air conditioner is not capable of properly cooling the second floor and that the basement is cold enough to hang meat! This is typical of an oversized and or single stage cooling system. The beauty of your cold climate heat pump is that it is a modulating cooling system. It has a stage for every temperature during the cooling season. It is like having a perfectly sized air conditioner for every day of the summer, maintaining an ultimate balance between temperature and humidity.

If you have a centrally ducted heating and cooling system, in other words you have duct work, then you will likely want to consider a heat pump that is going to work with your existing ductwork. If this is the case you may choose to go for a dual fuel system whereby the heat pump will be coupled to your existing furnace, if it is newer and compatible, or coupled to a new furnace. A dual fuel system is often referred to as a hybrid heat pump system. Another choice may be to eliminate fossil fuels altogether and to opt for a full heat pump system. This system will consist of a cold climate heat pump coupled to any electric furnace.

If you do not have duct work as you live in a home with electric baseboards or with a hot water boiler system, then a ductless style heat pump will be a logical choice. This style of heat pump has been designed specifically for houses like yours. This allows you to use your heat pump in lieu of your baseboards or boiler for much of the heating season. This can result in considerable savings on your energy bills.

Once we have calculated your Design Heat Loss and selected a few heat pumps models and sizes we will be able to plot the output of these heat pumps, to calculate their balance points, and to provide you with options so that you can make the best choice for your needs.

“If you hear from someone that tells you their heat pump is going to work great for you without taking the time to fully understand your home, to assess your comfort needs and to actually do the calculations, then they are either naïve or trying to make a sale. All Heat Pumps Are Not Created Equal.”  (Call out, please place where you see fit)

Simply put, a heat pump is an appliance that finds heat and moves it. The heat already exists, so your heat pump finds that heat, and pumps it into your home.

You may have heard that heat pumps don’t work well in Ottawa… and if you had a heat pump 20-30 years ago, you would be right. But as demand for super high efficient heating systems has increased, manufacturers have produced cold climate heat pumps capable of extracting heat in temperatures as cold as -30C, and they work beautifully, efficiently, and quietly, perfect for our Ottawa climate.

 

It is very common to confuse heat with temperature. Even if the temperature is really cold, like -20C, there is still heat available in the air, in fact there is still a ton of heat when it is -100C and let’s face it, it never gets that cold. The thing is that in the winter, that heat is less concentrated when it is cold outside. What your heat pump does is it gathers up that heat and moves it into your house, and naturally when you add heat to your home, the temperature will rise.

You may have heard that heat pumps don’t work well in Ottawa… and if you had a heat pump 20-30 years ago, you would be right. But as demand for super high efficient heating systems has increased, manufacturers have produced cold climate heat pumps capable of extracting heat in temperatures as cold as -30C, and they work beautifully, efficiently, and quietly, perfect for our Ottawa climate.

 

No. The beauty of a heat pump is that they not only provide your heating at an incredibly efficient rate, but they provide all of your cooling as well, using less electricity, and a better balance between temperature and humidity than your current air conditioner.

Yes, it is always a good idea to use a heat pump for heating. If your house is old and leaky and you have very little insulation, then it is losing heat quickly. Whether you heat your home with a furnace or a heat pump, you’re going to have to continually add heat to your home to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. Because your house requires more heat than other homes, it makes even more sense to use a heat pump given that the heat pump is so efficient at producing heat. And, you may want to look at adding more insulation and draft proofing your home. An energy advisor will be able to help you to prioritize your upgrades to maximize your dollars spent.

Will a heat pump increase my electricity consumption? Yes… and then again maybe not. If you currently heat with gas, propane or oil, and you start using a heat pump then the answer is yes, your hydro bill will increase, but you will never have a gas, propane or oil bill ever again! On the other hand, if you currently heat with electricity, you should expect your hydro bill to drop by 50% – 70%.

Over the past decade, manufacturers have been increasingly pushing the envelope, making heat pumps more and more efficient. As such within the last decade, an organization called NEEP started testing and organizing heat pumps into two classifications: standard heat pumps and cold-climate heat pumps. Whether it is a central system or a ductless system, a cold-climate heat pump is our best investment (and will qualify for the highest rebates). A cold-climate air source heat pump provides the most heat at the highest efficiency, and the lowest operating cost, deep into the coldest weather of our Ottawa winter… vs. a standard heat pump that will provide heat for the shoulder seasons but will be using the supplemental heat much sooner in the winter.

Generally speaking, there are two types of heat pumps that exist. A geothermal, also called a ground source heat pump will extract heat from underground. These systems are fantastically efficient, but they do come at a price as they require drilling of wells, or a field/land in which to install the outdoor portion of the system. Air source heat pumps (also referred or as aerothermal systems) extract heat from the outside air. These systems don’t need any more room than an air conditioner requires, they are a fraction of the cost of a geothermal system, and because technology has improved so profoundly, they are very similar in efficiency to geothermal systems. 

Great question and probably the most common question we receive. It all starts with a heat loss/heat gain calculation. Part of our design process is that we take the time to properly measure the heat loss and heat gain in your home in order to properly size your heat pump, even if we have to make a special trip back to your home on another day. It is imperative that we know how much heat your house needs on the coldest day of the year in order to provide you with the most correctly sized heat pump system for your home. There is no one-size-fits-all and anyone that says their heat pump is going to work great without truly understanding your home is either naïve, or just trying to make sale. This is about you, not us.

Yes, you have several options when it comes to heat pumps. If your home has ductwork, then you would use a central heat pump, similar to your existing furnace and air conditioner. If you don’t have ductwork, you would use a ductless system, also called a mini split. Ductless systems are also popular as you are able to create temperature zones whereby you can keep your master bedroom at a different temperature than your living room, for example (even if you have ductwork).

Yes… maybe. If you have ductwork, a heat pump “system” will consist of the heat pump (outdoor unit) coupled to a matched indoor unit such as a furnace, or air handler (also called a fan coil). The heat pump is the outdoor unit (that looks like an air conditioner) that collects the heat from the outdoor air. The furnace or air handler then distributes that heat throughout your house, using your ductwork.

Yes. Depending on the size of your home and how much heat your home needs on the coldest day of the year, will depend on the size, type, and configuration of your heat pump system. All heat pump systems require some sort of backup heat but designing your heat pump system to be as efficient as possible, to limit the use of supplemental heat, is our always our focus.