We’ve all heard stories about that neighbour or family friend who installed a heat pump, and when they needed it most in the middle of winter, it couldn’t keep up. Fortunately, this hasn’t been an issue in over a decade, and new cold-climate heat pump technology can maintain full output down to temperatures as low as -25C. In addition to being able to keep up on the coldest days of the year, heat pumps are better able to match the load for the rest of the year. They can achieve this through inverter driven compressors, which have the ability to ramp up and ramp down to give you the exact amount of heating or cooling you need at that moment. Traditional, single-stage furnaces only deliver a set output, regardless of what the house needs at that point in the day. This translates into inconsistent temperatures as the furnace kicks on and slightly overheats the house, before kicking out and letting the house get a point slightly below the desired temperature.
Another way heat pumps contribute to a better level of comfort is simply by the fact that you now have air conditioning in the summer. Heat pumps operate by transferring heat between outside and inside air. With a reversing valve, the heat pump can reverse the transfer of heat from the inside air to the outside. The ability to match the load mentioned earlier is especially crucial in the shoulder season months in green-grass climates, when there may not be a large differential in temperature, but humidity levels remain high. An air conditioner actually has two functions, first and foremost, removing heat, or what is known as the sensible load, but also removing moisture, or the latent load. Think of a humid summer day, when you feel uncomfortable and sticky, even though the temperature isn’t overly high. As the humidity level increases, it becomes increasingly difficult for our body to get rid of excess heat. Variable capacity heat pumps provide much longer run times, allowing much more air to pass over the cold condenser coils, in turn, providing better dehumidification and increased comfort. As air conditioning becomes more of a necessity than a luxury during the cooling season in many regions of the country, a heat pump is able to do double duty keeping you toasty in the winter, and cool and comfortable in the summer.