Do Heat Pumps Work in Atlantic Canada?

Learn how heat pumps are the best home heating and cooling solution, even in the unpredictable Atlantic Canadian climate.

A common misconception among homeowners is that heat pumps don’t work well in the unpredictable and wide-ranging Atlantic Canadian climate. The truth, however, is that heat pumps are an excellent option for both heating and cooling in Atlantic Canada.

Whether you’re in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia; Edmundston, New Brunswick; Summerside, Prince Edward Island; or Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, heat pumps are the leading solution for saving a substantial amount on your energy bill year round.

Note: There are several different types of heat pumps which rely on a variety of heat sources. For the sake of this article, the focus will be on air-source heat pumps, as they are by far the most common variety found in Atlantic Canada.

Heat Pumps Have Come a Long Way

The misconception that heat pumps tend to underperform in extreme weather was undoubtedly correct in the past, as many models would shut down at temperatures just below freezing. This limitation made heat pumps viable only in temperate climates, and certainly not in Atlantic Canada, where temperatures frequently get into the double digits below freezing.

Now, heat pumps can operate efficiently at temperatures into the negative 20-degree range, a far cry from the lowly heat pumps of the past. Although this does present some limitations (which will be explored later), it does show that heat pumps can withstand the vast majority of frigid winters—all while saving homeowners up to 60 percent in their heating costs, compared to traditional means of home heating.

Why Are Heat Pumps So Efficient?

Heat pumps are such an efficient source of home heating because of the way they supply heat. The interesting thing is that they don’t actually produce heat at all, but instead, distribute it from one place to another.

Heat naturally likes to move from one place to another. Heat pumps take advantage of this fact by transferring the heat outside into your home. To transfer heat, your outdoor unit takes that heat and runs it through sets of refrigerant tubes which absorb the heat and send it inside your house.

You might ask, “how can a heat pump extract warm air from outside in the winter?”. The fact is, even when it seems cold to us, there is still some warm air for a heat pump to extract and distribute.

During the summer months, your heat pump can reverse the process outlined above to cool your home. Interestingly enough, this is the same cooling process that modern air conditioning units use.

Looking for an in-depth look at how heat pumps work? Read more here.

Do I Need a Backup Heat Source?

As mentioned, heat pumps can extract heat from the air even when it’s quite cold outside. However, problems occur when it becomes too cold for the heat pump to work efficiently (in some cases around -20 degrees). In many climates, it doesn’t get cold enough to worry about this drawback; however, as you know, it Atlantic Canada can get quite cold. In cold winter climates, it is wise to have a backup source of heating for unusually chilly days when your heat pump will not be able to perform efficiently.

The cases where a backup generator is needed are somewhat limited in the grand scheme of things. For example, think of the number of days in the run of a year that it gets to -20 degrees (without wind-chill). When it does get this cold, you have a few options available to you for a backup source of heat. The backup source you use will depend on your type of heat pump and the heating infrastructure already in place in your house.

For those who use a ductless/mini-split heat pump, your most likely backup source of heat will be electric baseboard heating, as many homeowners who use ductless heat pumps have electric baseboard system already in place.

Homes with centrally ducted heat pumps can sometimes have an electric backup heating system built in for when the temperature drops. However, depending on the unit, it may be necessary to rely on an oil furnace. Consult a Daikin Comfort Pro near you to see which backup system best suits your home.

A Solid Year-Round Energy Investment

As you’ve seen, heat pumps have become the ultimate all-in-one heating solution for the vast majority of weather conditions in Atlantic Canada. So much so that New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia have all made various rebate programs available to homeowners who choose to install heat pump systems in their home.

With these rebates, not only would you stand to save a significant amount on your monthly energy bill, but you would also stand to reduce the installation cost as well. See below to find the program for your province.  

Download The Daikin Product Catalogue

Find the perfect heat pump by downloading our product catalogue. There you’ll find all of the top heat pump systems to keep you feeling comfortable year-round.