Intentional Living

Heat Pumps and Cold Climates

We’ve wanted to switch our home heating system from natural gas to electric fork a few years now. Our furnace and A/C unit are 27 years old so it was only a matter of time before one quit (and usually at the worst possible time). We also wanted to try and get our home off of fossil fuels so we started looking at getting an electric heat pump installed. This would handle both our heating and cooling needs as well as remove the requirement for gas. But the challenge has been finding an HVAC contractor that would be willing to do it. We talked to three different HVAC companies and their response was always “Yeah they are great for warmer climates but not the okanagan or” “The other response was always “Why would you do that? Natural gas is cheaper”.

I knew that heat pumps (the cold climate versions) were popular in the East coast where it gets much colder than here in the Okanagan. So why shouldn’t they work here?

I looked into it some more this summer, and found a handful of homes in Western Canada that had switched to an electric cold-climate heat pump system and that they did indeed work. But that still didn’t solve our lack of a willing installer.

Thankfully I came across Coldstream Mechanical who had experience and knowledge with the Mitsubishi Hyperheat line of products that have a great reputation for operating in colder temperatures around the world.

They completed our install last week, setting up an indoor “head” on each floor to the single exterior unit. We’ve been using it for the last week down to -7C and it’s been working great. However, there still was the question “yeah but what happens when it gets down to -20C.” Temperatures rarely get to that in a given Okanagan winter. But ten days after our install, the forecast was calling for -18C. We were going to get our cold weather test whether we liked it or not!

The frigid temperatures arrived, and there was good news and bad news. First the bad news: It dropped to lower than forecast, down to -21C! But the good news is that the system performed great in those temperatures and kept the inside of our house at 20C. While we had anticipated it would be fine, it was nice to see that it did indeed keep up.

The exterior unit operating at -20C

By darylchymko

Code Wrangler and ultrarunner

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