Heat Pump vs Gas Furnace in Ontario
When making the decision between whether to heat your home with a heat pump vs. a gas furnace in your Ontario home, it often boils down to three main factors: efficiency, affordability, and maintenance. You will need to consider your heating needs and budget, each system’s maintenance requirements, and the climate that you live in. In this article, we do a total breakdown of each so you can make a more informed decision about which is best for your residence or commercial property.
For a more customized solution, we encourage homeowners to schedule an in-home consultation with a home comfort advisor. During this appointment, you’ll receive a complimentary new system purchase quote and more information regarding our current discounts and financing options so you can save big on your new equipment!
What is a Heat Pump?
Heat pumps are versatile systems that offer a dual-purpose: they can both heat and cool. Your most common source of air is the heat pump, which may be installed either ducted or ductless. The heat pump usually comes with an outdoor and indoor fixture, where a refrigerant line is designed to connect both units and comes equipped with a reversing valve. Heat pumps function by utilizing electricity in order to transfer thermal energy from the air outside to inside. The air, once heated, circulates through your home in order to achieve the temperature that you most desire, whether that’s cooler in the summer or warmer in the winter. Your heat pump will also take moisture from the air and warm it, providing a decent supply of naturally humid air which results in a less drying effect on your skin. Heating pumps work great even at temperatures as low as 5˚C, at which point they can become less efficient and may not be able to provide enough warmth to keep a home toasty and comfortable.
There are alternate versions of your traditional heating pump, which can offer heat down to -30˚C, but they generally can only offer enough heat to heat the home up until -15˚C. Here, your electric baseboards or backup furnace would need to trigger to keep the home comfortable.
What is a Gas Furnace?
Gas furnaces are more standard inclusions in any home in Ontario and are designed to use combustion in order to create heat. (Note: an electric furnace relies on electric coils.) Both types of furnaces are dependent on what the temperature outside is, and as a result they are able to provide sustained and comfortable heat during severe temperatures. Furnaces will need to be accompanied by a separate cooling system in order to keep a home cool during Ontario’s blazing summer months.
Your average gas furnace functions with four main components: a heat exchanger, which transfers heat from a furnace to the air stream, a blower fan, which then circulates air that is heated by the heat exchanger, and a flue/vent that ensures the safe dispersion of gaseous by-products. The burner is the core of all this, where fuel is burnt in order to generate heat.
Heat pump vs. gas furnace: what is cheaper to run in Ontario?
Both heat pumps and gas furnaces can vary immensely in terms of their cost and energy efficiency. It also depends on the size of the unit and the thermal requirements of the residence or building that either needs cooling or heating. Generally, installation for heat pumps tends to be higher than it is for furnaces, but the cost of heat pumps’ operation is much lower.
Heat pumps are also more energy efficient, but your more high-efficiency natural gas furnaces tend to offer far better energy savings in colder climates, particularly if fuel prices are also low at the same time. In Ontario, where temperatures sit around -15˚C in the winter and can get as low as -30˚C, the heat pump may simply not be equipped to keep a home comfortable. Oftentimes the best solution is to have both a cold climate heat pump or regular option as well as a high efficiency gas furnace.
Can a heat pump replace a furnace in Ontario?
Technically it can, but in Ontario, it might not be a wise idea. Owning a heat pump is a fine idea if your climate doesn’t go below any extreme temperatures, but Ontario is known for being, on average, below freezing both day and night during the winter. In some areas in Ontario, temperatures can drop below -30˚C with ease, so it might not be wise to solely have a heat pump. Instead, consider a heat pump with a supplemental gas or even electric furnace. It may cost more to maintain, but your home will be kept cozy and comfortable even as the temperature drops well below freezing in some of the bitter winter months.
Is it worth replacing a gas furnace with a heat pump?
Heat pumps overall are a more energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, and safe alternative to furnaces (which function off of gas and oil.) They don’t create harmful byproducts and run on electricity. A benefit to replacing a gas furnace with a heat pump is less annual maintenance required since the heat pump also has a cooling function and there aren’t two separate systems that require tending to. Heat pumps can also reduce your energy usage by between 30%-60%, which means lower energy costs overall.
At the same time, a heat pump may not be efficient enough to keep your home as warm and comfortable in the winter as a gas or electric furnace could be. If you live in an area where the temperature routinely drops below -10˚C or even -15˚C (which is a lot of Ontario) then a heat pump may not be enough. You may need to still equip your home with a furnace to offer that supplemental heat.
Are you unsure whether a heat pump would work in your home? If so, we encourage homeowners to reach out to the team at Boonstra Heating and Air Conditioning for assistance! Our team of home comfort advisors will be able to provide you with customized solutions based on your unique needs and budget. Furthermore, your consultation will also include a complimentary new system purchase quote along with further information about our current discounts and financing options to help alleviate some upfront costs!