Choosing a heat pump
You are not sure if you should buy a heat pump? Be aware that this proven technology has been around for decades and that the many improvements it has received over the years, make it one of the most efficient comfort systems on the market, in addition to providing quieter operation and significant energy savings. Heat pump systems are highly recommended for maintaining a comfortable temperature in winter and summer.
Several criteria have to be considered before making the final choice of your heat pump: above all, make sure you contact a certified dealer-installer who will not only guide you through the unit selection process, but will also ensure that your heat pump is properly installed in order to provide the best possible performance.
How does it work?
The principle is simple: during the winter a heat pump draws heat from the air outside to heat the air inside. Inversely, during the summer, it provides cooling inside the home.
Central heat pumps
If your home is already equipped with air ducts, or if you are looking for a comfort system for a new home being built, a central heat pump is an excellent choice. A central heat pump ensures constant and even comfort. In heating mode, central heat pumps do not dry the air, as opposed to electric baseboard heating. Since a central system blows treated air through ventilation ducts and grilles, no unit or equipment interferes with the decor or architecture of your home. If purchase and installation costs seem a little high, rest assured that they will be recovered within a few years thanks to significant energy savings.
Wall mounted ductless heat pumps
Increasingly popular, wall mounted ductless heat pumps are particularly suitable for homes without ventilation ducts. These types of units are mostly appreciated by condo owners or home owners with electric baseboard heating who wish to increase their comfort level while significantly lowering their energy bills. Ductless systems consist of an outdoor condensing unit and one indoor air-handling unit.
The purchase of heating and air conditioning equipment is a significant expense and it is important to choose a reliable system with minimum maintenance costs. Choosing a high quality product backed with one of the best warranties in the industry brings peace of mind for years in terms of the comfort and for your budget. Some renowned brands such as Fujitsu and GREE, offer exceptional warranties up to 10 years on parts and labor.
Avoid inexpensive brands that have no reputation for quality. If broken, it will be difficult to find replacement parts, and it is even possible that the required repairs result in a full replacement of the unit. Among your options, only consider the purchase of units built by manufacturers known for the quality of their products.
Contact a certified dealer
A certified dealer has the experience to recommend a product well suited to your criteria and comfort needs. He will make a recommendation based not only on the living space, but also on insulation, windows, the number of occupants in your home and your lifestyle. A poorly installed high quality product will never operate to its full potential: a certified dealer will execute a flawless installation ensuring optimal performance of the system.
The size of your new unit is a key factor among the selection criteria. An undersized unit will operate at full power non-stop and an oversized unit will generate continuous and unrequired start/stop sequences. In both cases, it would cause premature wear of the system, poor energy efficiency as well as discomfort for the occupants.
Heat pumps can generate significant energy savings, given that you choose the right product. To be sure, check these ratings when making your selection:
- HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor and measures heat pump efficiency in heating mode. This rating is the most important to consider because Canadian winters are longer and when the weather is cold, the unit is constantly solicited. The higher the HSPF, the greater the savings and the efficiency of the heat pump in heating mode. To meet ENERGY STAR standards, HSPF must be over 7.1.
- In addition to checking the HSPF, it is important to select a unit with demand-defrost control. This minimizes defrost cycles (system reversals are hard on the machine), which reduces supplementary and heat pump energy use.
- EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio. This rating represents the heat pump's energy efficiency operating in cooling mode on an annual basis. ENERGY STAR requires a minimum ratio of 12.
- SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, a measure that evaluates energy efficiency over a cooling season. To qualify for the ENERGY STAR designation, the SEER must be greater than 14.5.
Watch for sound ratings
Since the condensing unit is installed outside the house, noisy equipment can have a negative impact on your peace of mind, and that of your neighbors. Make sure you chose a unit displaying a moderate noise level. For ductless heat pumps, also ensure the indoor units are as quiet as possible. As an indication, models offering the lowest noise levels are rated below 45 decibels.