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Manitoba to cover installation of 5,000 geothermal heat pumps

As heat pumps continue to grow in popularity, Edward Djan explores how they work and some of their constraints.

The Manitoba government is pledging to cover the entire cost of installing 5,000 geothermal heat pumps in the province.

Unlike air-source heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps gather heat from the ground and are not dependent on outside air, allowing them to operate in colder weather.

“Heat pumps represent an enormous opportunity for Manitobans and reason why there is a huge opportunity is because one, they can help Manitobans save money on their heating, two they could help to create a lot of clean energy jobs in Manitoba and three they help to reduce our carbon emissions,” said Adrien Sala, Minister of Finance.

J-M Houston is the HVAC Manager at Lynn’s HVAC. He says during the winter, a heat pump essentially acts as an air conditioner in reverse.

“What it’s doing is recovering heat on the condenser pushing it through the refrigerant into the evaporator coil where the blower will push against the evaporator coil stealing the heat from the refrigerant. Essentially, it’s pulling heat from outside to inside of your home,” explained Houston.

Since heat pumps act the same as an air conditioner when cooling a home, they could operate year-round in some climates.

The heat pump Houston is describing is an air source heat pump, one of the more common types used, though in Manitoba there are some exceptions to its usage.

“Heat pumps can heat a home to an exterior temperature of -25 C. Below that they are required to switch over to another source of heat such as an electric furnace or a gas fire furnace,” said Dan Boissoneault, comfort advisor at Tradesman Mechanical.

Terry Blatz, Reliable Heat and Air, “The outlay to putting a geothermal system is a lot more than an air-to-air pump. Most people are not going that route.”

For the more common air source heat pump, costs can still be a significant factor.

“You could be looking anywhere from $15,000 up to $20,000, that’s just considering a system that would replace an existing system and not any ductwork,” said Boissoneault.

Both the province of Manitoba and the federal government already offer grants to anyone looking to switch to a heat pump.

Amid British Columbia’s agreement with the federal government to work together to cover some of the cost and streamline the process of getting heat pumps, Manitoba is hoping the federal government could also work with this province.

“We are looking to partner with the federal government to ensure we can expand access to heat pumps here in Manitoba. We have written a letter to the federal minister responsible, myself, and my colleague Minister Schmidt who is responsible for environment and climate and we are looking to hear back from them on how we can expand access to heat pumps here in Manitoba,” said Minister Sala.

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