Canadian Heat Pump – Myth Buster

Author/Contributor: Efficiency Canada

Alberta Context: This heat pump report was written in Canada, and speaks to cold climates similar to Alberta.

Note: While the report covers cold climate-related issues, not all of the analysis provided in this document is done with Alberta’s grid makeup, climate, and utility costs in mind. Heat pumps are a cost-effective, easy to implement, efficient option in many applications but not in every single one, this should be considered when reviewing this report. 


Buildings are the third largest source of GHG emissions in Canada. Space and water heating account for the majority of building emissions.  “Electrifying buildings will be essential in meeting 2050 net-zero emissions targets” (pg. 4, source: Efficiency Canada, Canadian Heat Pump Myth Buster) and heat pumps are an important part of the solution.

There are two main types of heat pumps: air-source and ground-source.

“Air-source systems are the most common on the Canadian market, with over 700,000 installed units across Canada.” (source: Natural Resources Canada, Heating and Cooling with a Heat Pump

Advancements to heat pump technology have been made to refrigeration circuits and variable speed compressors. Cold Climate Air-Source Heat Pumps can maintain high heating capacity at low temperatures.   “In climates as cold as Whitehorse, YT, CC-ASHPs have been found to efficiently supply heat at temperatures as low as -28.9 °C.”  (pg. 5, source: Efficiency Canada, Canadian Heat Pump Myth Buster)

This report also discusses ten myths that could hinder heat pump promoting policies in Canada with facts to back them up.

Here is a summary of the myths below:

  • Myth 1: Heat pumps are a new and untested technology
  • Myth 2: Canada would be alone if cleaner and more efficient heating requirements were introduced
  • Myth 3: Canada is too cold for heat pumps
  • Myth 4: Using a heat pump costs more than a fossil fuel-based heating system
  • Myth 5: Electric grids don’t have the capacity for heat pumps
  • Myth 6: In provinces with dirty grids, heat pumps don’t lower emissions
  • Myth 7: Heat pumps are not climate-friendly because of their refrigerants
  • Myth 8: A gas furnace can still heat if there is an electrical power outage
  • Myth 9: Heat pumps will not work in old homes without extensive upgrades
  • Myth 10: HVAC contractors do not support heat pumps

Read the full report with all the myths, facts, and truths related to heat pumps in Canada here.

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