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Morning JAVA: Heat Pumps vs Air Conditioners

Morning JAVA: Heat Pumps vs Air Conditioners


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Heat Pumps Are Air Conditioners!

In late November, 2023 my 12 year old furnace decided to quit on me. Fortunately, I have extra insurance tacked to my mortgage that covers such 'unexpected' expenses. They had already covered the costs of repairing the furnace two years prior. Once again, it broke down but this time, to my surprise, the insurance company decided it wasn't worth repairing. They informed the contractor to replace the whole thing at no cost to me except the initial $50 consultation / inspection fee.

The furnace installation company representative sat down with me to review my options and I settled on the right furnace for my small, single floor house. It was during this visit that he informed me of a federal government / Ministry of Natural Resources program (in Canada) that was ongoing to have air conditioners replaced with heat pumps as part of the government's climate change agenda. I would have to pay up front (which I did) but eventually, would get full reimbursement of approximately $6,500 plus any inspection fees I might pay. which in the end cost over $900 for two inspection visits.

Now, you're probably wondering, 'What's the difference between an air condition and a heat pump'? It's quite simple really. An air conditioner blows air in one direction only to produce cool(er) air. A heat pump can also push air in one direction to cool air but also has the added functionality of working in reverse to produce warm / hot air. The one setback is that it won't work if the temperature outside falls below zero degrees. Yet, last weekend when temps dropped below zero again, I noticed the heat pump was still pushing warm air in at minus two degrees. That must mean it's working well.

So what happens when the temps get too cold for the heat pump to function properly. That's when the new gas furnace kicks in to provide heat. The blower fan in the furnace works in conjunction with both the furnace and the heat pump. Temp sensors automatically know when to switch between the two.

This is where the whole 'environmental impact' comes in. Whenever the temperature is at zero or above, electricity powers the heat pump to produce warm air and NOT the gas furnace. While natural gas is very clean burning, it still spews out waste. When you count all the homes under a deep freeze in Canada 7 months out of every year, that can add up to a lot of toxic exhaust.

Almost immediately, I felt a change when the heat pump began doing its job. The air feels different than heat produced with a gas furnace. The air feels warm and moist. My lips and skin didn't dry up as in previous years as is so common during the dry, winter months.

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While I've noticed my electricity bill go up about $30, I've also noticed my gas bill drop. Usually, January and especially February are the coldest months of the year here in Canada. In January, 2023 my gas bill amounted to $226. My January, 2024 gas bill amounts to $160. All in all, it amounts to about $35 in savings for the first full month of usage.

Here's where things get even better. My gas bill for February, 2023 amounted to $190 while my gas bill for February, 2024 amounts to just 3 pennies shy of $80, less than half the previous year's usage or $110 difference! So when deducting the extra $30 or so in electricity usage, the estimated savings is $80. While we got slightly warmer temps because of El Nino, I can tell you it still got bloody cold. In mid February, I saw temps drop to minus 14 Celsius overnight.

With these numbers, the estimated savings amount to $115 for the first two full months of using the new heat pump. With everything costing more these days, it's nice to see my heating bill go down instead of up. Would you agree these savings are significant?

I should see even better results as we head into spring as temps stay above zero. As summer arrives, the heat pump will switch to run in reverse and provide cool air in the house while hardly creating any noise when operational and that's a good thing. It sits outside so don't want to annoy the neighbors with any loud noises.

I'm glad I took advantage of the government's incentives to switch over to a furnace with heat pump. As of April 1, us Canadians face a carbon tax increase (Bogus, I know) which is beyond my control. Using less gas to heat my home in winter will mean paying less of this carbon tax.

Yes, I got lucky this time around. Insurance (that only cost me about $18 per month) covered the replacement of the furnace. Just yesterday afternoon, a representative came to make the final inspection to confirm a heat pump was indeed installed and recorded the serial numbers. I was informed that it could still take 3 to 4 months to get my full reimbursement but that everything was in order. It's taking so long because so many others have also taken advantage of this program. All in all,  it'll have taken 6 to 7 months after installation to finally get my reimbursement which will total over $7,000.

Now, I'm seeing positive results as shown in my recent gas heating bills and the house is as warm as ever. Overall, I'm very satisfied with my new furnace / heat pump. In a year's time, I'll do a full comparison to see just how much I've saved by switching over. I'm assuming I'll save about $400 per year as a result. Better in my pocket than someone else's.

How about you? Did you have a heat pump installed recently? Please share your experience in the comments section below.

 

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SweptOverNiagara
SweptOverNiagara

Name's Joe and I live in Ontario, Canada. I like writing on a wide variety of topics. I enjoy keeping track of markets, investing and commodities and the crypto sector. Also do some coding for web browsers.


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