Stories & Features

Get it right by hiring an expert for your heat pump installation

Image of a person using a remote control to set the temperature on a heat pump
Use a wireless remote or upload an app to your smartphone for control of your heating or cooling with a heat pump. "Even if you're not tech savvy, learn to use the app," says heat pump owner Pierre Dove.

Hiring a Program Registered Contractor is the smart choice

Pierre Dove works in the pool industry and knows the basics of heat pumps. But he leaned on a Program Registered Contractor, from the same firm he used for home renovations a few years earlier, to add a heat pump to his Port Coquitlam home.

"The guys recommended a mini split model, with a bigger head in the living room and a smaller one in the bedroom," says Dove. "The comfort with the heat pump has been great. And our bills are down about $100 a month when you combine gas and electricity savings [from heating and cooling]."

Pierre and wife Dora used an $800 rebate from BC Hydro's home renovation rebate program, which now offers heat pump rebates of up to $2,000, to offset the costs of the Mitsubishi heat pump. Their top priority was to have enough cooling power to combat the waves of heat that hit his 1,300-square-foot, southwest-facing home in summer.

"The sun just blasts in here," he says. "We tried fans, swamp coolers, all kinds of things, and we weren't able to get the temperature to where we were comfortable in the summer time."

That has all changed. Asked what has been the biggest benefit of switching to a heat pump – cost savings or comfort – he hesitates a bit before going with comfort.

"I use the app on my phone, and once I find the temperature for the season, that's it," says Pierre, adding that a geofencing feature in the app can also automatically turn on heating or cooling when you get within a few blocks of your home.

Pierre's advice is that even if you're not tech savvy, you should learn to use the app. Then leave things alone.

"Don't try to turn it up and down all the time – let it do its thing," he says. "It knows what it's doing."

As a bonus, condensation in cooler seasons is no longer an issue

The baseboard heaters in the Doves' home weren't up to the challenge of a B.C. winter, even on the coast. The couple no longer needs to use their gas fireplace for backup heat anymore, and windows covered with water droplets – the result of condensation on metal-frame windows in the home – are pretty much a thing of the past.

"The strata won't let us change the windows, so the only way to go was with dehumidification," says Pierre. "That made a big difference this past winter."

'A bigger job than you might expect'

Mini-split heat pump installations tend to be less intrusive than furnace installations, but that doesn't mean there's not a lot of work involved. Pierre watched as the contractor did work in his walls, in the attic and at the electrical panel.

Heat pump and insulation Program Registered Contractors (PRC) have completed additional training so that they can provide the best service possible. Working with a PRC means you're working with someone trained in industry best practices and knowledgeable about rebates available for your upgrades. It's important to get the right kind of heat pump, and the right size of heat pump, for your particular home.

"A PRC is required to do what's called a heat-loss calculation on a home," says BC Hydro's Tony Ceh, a program specialist with BC Hydro. "That determines what the heating requirement is for the home, so that the heat pump is properly sized. Without that calculation, you're kind of using rule of thumb, or eyeballing it."

Without the calculation, the selected heat pump might be accidentally oversized or undersized, impacting it's ability to heat or cool the home. Oversizing can mean there's too much equipment, and a greater cost, than what's required. Undersizing can lead to a system that's not up to the heating and cooling needs at extreme temperatures throughout the year.

"Proper sizing and selection is vital to make sure you're matching the heat pump to the home type," says Ceh.

Other advantages of a Program Registered Contractor include:

  • A completed quality installation summary that details the work performed, as well as any noteworthy observations.
  • Confidence that all work is performed in a safe manner.

Even if you don't choose a Program Registered Contractor – while use of a PRC is advisable, it's not a requirement of qualification for home renovation rebates – it's always a good practice to look for an installer's certifications and credentials.

Search for a Program Registered Contractor in your area.

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