Will switching to a heat pump save you money?
Here's how to find out

Table of Contents

Canada’s growing interest in eco-friendly and energy-efficient living has led to a significant rise in the use of heat pumps as a home heating and cooling option. The thing is, not everyone is aware of what heat pumps are and just how they could benefit Canadian families. These innovative solutions offer significant financial savings over traditional HVAC systems in addition to significant environmental benefits, which is always a plus. 

We’ll look at some of the main features of heat pumps, including potential savings and model selection that works best in our unpredictable Canadian weather. We’ll also talk about the various subsidies and offers that lower the upfront costs associated with implementing this technology. Tropic Air, Toronto’s leading HVAC supplier since 1992, can assist you in selecting and installing a heat pump system that satisfies your needs and enhances the comfort and environmental impact of your house.

What Are Heat Pumps and How Do They Work?

  • Heat pumps are an adaptable and energy-efficient choice for heating and cooling your home since they function fundamentally differently from traditional HVAC systems. The basic principle that heat is transferred rather than created underlies the operation of heat pumps. They provide heat during the cooler months by drawing it from the ground or outside air and reverse this process to cool your home in the hot months by taking the heat out.

Dual Functionality

Heat pumps serve two roles, which makes them an extremely economical alternative all year round. By employing the same system for both heating and cooling, heat pumps save money and the need to build and operate clunky separate systems. Because they transmit heat rather than generating it via combustion, they also use a great deal less energy than conventional furnaces and air conditioners.

Types of Heat Pumps

Air-Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs):

How They Work: The most popular kind of heat pump draws heat from the outside air through the use of air-source technology. The outside air contains enough thermal energy for the ASHP to function well even in extremely cold weather.

Benefits: Compared to ground-source systems, they are typically less costly and easier to install. They can drastically save heating expenses and are appropriate for a variety of housing types, particularly in areas with limited access to natural gas.

Ground-Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs), also known as Geothermal Heat Pumps:

  • How They Work: Heat from the earth is taken in by these systems. The earth has a more stable temperature than the air above it, so they employ a network of underground pipes to draw heat from it.

Benefits: Because of the constant ground temperatures, GSHPs operate more reliably. In severe weather, they perform better than ASHPs and can result in longer-term energy savings. However, there are substantial up-front expenses and landscape modifications associated with the installation of these systems.

Economic Efficiency of Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are known for their outstanding energy efficiency, which saves a lot of money in comparison to conventional heating and cooling systems. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and the Coefficient of Performance (COP) are two essential metrics that are used to assess this efficiency.

Efficiency Metrics:

  • Coefficient of Performance (COP): Heat pumps generate three to five times as much energy as they consume or a COP of three to five. On the other hand, conventional heating systems frequently function below a COP of 1.
  • Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER): Modern heat pumps greatly outperform traditional air conditioners in terms of cooling, with SEER ratings ranging from 15 to over 20.

Cost Savings:

    • Reduced Energy Usage: Heat pumps reduce energy use by transferring heat rather than producing it, which lowers utility costs.
    • Lower Operating Costs: Maintaining separate systems is more expensive than running a single heat pump for both cooling and heating.
    Long-Term Savings: Heat pumps are often less expensive to operate and maintain over time, offsetting their greater initial cost.

Cost Savings: Real Numbers and Examples

In terms of upfront and ongoing expenditures, there are significant financial advantages to switching from conventional heating and cooling systems to heat pumps. Based on studies from the Canadian Climate Institute and federal research, the following is a brief summary of the cost savings:

Upfront Costs:

    • Heat Pumps: Installation costs for standard ducted heat pumps can vary from $5,000 to $9,000; however, a federal Greener Homes Grant may be able to save this amount by $4,000. Cold-climate models cost between $10,000 and $19,000 more, but they also come with bigger refunds.
    Conventional Systems: A central air conditioner typically costs around $5,000, while a gas furnace typically costs between $3,700 and $4,700.

Operational Costs:

Savings from Heat Pumps: During the system lifespan (about 18 years), households may save an average of 13% by moving away from gas furnaces. This amount includes savings on maintenance and utility expenses. Even bigger savings are experienced by those switching from oil or electric heating systems; depending on the original system, these savings can range from $700 to $3,500 yearly.

Real-World Examples:

  • Toronto and Other Major Cities: A Canadian home may save $50 to $150 a year on average by switching from a gas furnace and air conditioning to an air-source heat pump, according to federal research. These savings would be greater in areas with different energy prices, such as Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Homes can switch to a heat pump and reap the financial and environmental benefits of decreased operating expenses as well as government subsidies that partially offset the greater initial expenditure.

Standard vs. Cold-Climate Heat Pumps

  • Homeowners contemplating heat pumps for Toronto’s diverse environment have the option to select from normal or cold-climate models, each tailored to address distinct temperature requirements.

Features and Costs:

    • Standard Heat Pumps: These work well in mild regions and may cost anywhere from $5,000 to $9,000, including installation. However, they could require a backup heat source if the temperature drops below freezing.
    Cold-Climate Heat Pumps: These versions, which range in price from $10,000 to $19,000, are designed to operate effectively in temperatures as low as -30°C without the need for additional heating.

Backup Heating Systems:

Integration with Heat Pumps: Even heat pumps meant for cold climates might have a backup system in really cold weather. Conventional heat pumps often rely on electric resistance heaters for contingency, however, systems designed for cold climates may combine with pre-existing furnace systems to offer effective warmth on the coldest days.

Incentives and Rebates for Heat Pump Installation

Several federal and provincial incentives are intended to promote energy-efficient home modifications that can help lower the cost of switching to a heat pump. Below is a summary of the main initiatives that homeowners in Toronto and other areas may take advantage of:

Federal Incentives:

Home Efficiency Rebate Plus: Significant incentives are available under this program for switching to energy-efficient heating equipment, such as heat pumps. If homeowners install qualified cold-climate heat pumps, they can earn up to $5,000 in reimbursement. To help with initial expenses, financing solutions with no interest are also offered.

Provincial and Municipal Incentives:

  • Toronto-Specific Offers: Certain local governments, like Toronto, provide funding choices and subsidies that can be combined with federal incentives. For example, through regional initiatives supporting sustainable energy solutions, residents in Toronto might be eligible for further incentives.

Provincial Programs: Through its Save on Energy program, Ontario provides homeowners who are upgrading from less efficient systems with financial aid in the form of rebates tailored particularly for heat pumps. Usually, a home energy audit is one of the eligibility requirements to identify the most efficient modifications.

Eligibility Criteria:

To qualify for most of these rebates and incentives, homeowners must typically:

  • Perform an energy audit of your house both before and after the installation.
  • For the installation, use qualified contractors that have been approved by the program.
  • Acquire and install equipment that satisfies the incentive programs’ particular energy-efficiency requirements.

Potential Savings:

When a homeowner combines federal, provincial, and municipal incentives, the net cost of purchasing and installing a heat pump can be significantly reduced. These savings make heat pumps an even more appealing option for homeowners looking to update the heating and air conditioning systems they currently use.


Making the switch to a heat pump is a smart financial move as well as a move toward a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Heat pumps not only lessen the environmental impact of your house by utilizing less fossil fuels and producing less emissions, but they also save you a lot of money by lowering energy costs and utility bills. Whether your needs are for cold or normal weather, pick the type of heat pump that best suits your needs, and you might have.

If you’re ready to learn more about heat pumps, Tropic Air is here to help. Contact us to arrange a personalized consultation and a free estimate. Our professionals can help you make the best decisions, handle installation, and show you how to get the most out of your new heat pump in terms of cost and environmental advantages. With Tropic Air, you can begin your road toward a more energy-efficient house today and take advantage of the cutting-edge solutions we’ve been offering since 1992.