Heat Pumps Quick Guide

Heat pumps have been used for many years in locations that typically experience milder winters. However, air-source heat pump technology has advanced, enabling these systems to be used in areas with extended periods of subfreezing temperatures.


Below we have provided a quick guide on how a heat pump works, and some common questions that pop up when considering having a heat pump installed.


How does a heat pump work?

Heat Pump In Air Conditioning Mode:

1. Warm air from within the home is pulled through the evaporator coil of the indoor air handler.

2. This cooled and dehumidified air is then delivered throughout the home.

3. A compressor circulates refrigerant between the indoor evaporator coil and outdoor condensing coil.

4. The  refrigerant removes the heat from the indoor evaporator coil at a low temperature and pressure, and rejects that heat through the outdoor condensing coil at a higher temperature and pressure.


Heat Pump In Heating Mode:

1. A heat pump can switch from air conditioning mode to heating mode by reversing the refrigeration cycle, making the outside coil function as the evaporator and the indoor coil as the condenser.

2. The outdoor coil now acting as the evaporator, cools the outside air. The heat removed from the outside air is delivered via the refrigeration circuit to the indoor air handler acting as the condensing coil.

Heat Pump Terminology  

HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor)

A ratio of BTU heat output over the heating season to watt-hours of electricity used. It has units of BTU/watt-hr. Higher the HSPF rating the more efficient the equipment.

Cubic Feet Per Min (CFM)

Is the amount of air the fan or air handler can deliver in one minute. Most air handlers have variable speed fans giving a range of air flow.

Outdoor Operating Range

The temperature range within which a unit can operate.

Coefficient of Performance (COP)

The COP of a heat pump is a ratio of the useful heating or cooling provided to the work required.  i.e. Using electric resistance heat- 1 kW of energy input yields 1 kW of heat output = COP of 1. Higher COPs equate to lower operating costs.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)

A ratio of BTU cooling output to watt-hours of electricity used over the cooling season. The higher the SEER rating the more efficient the equipment.

Balance Point

Is the temperature at which the heat loss of the house is equal to the output of the selected equipment.


Will a heat pump save me money?

The most accurate way to calculate your projected savings is:


Example A Electric Heat:

  • Determine how much energy was used in the previous year’s home heating cycle.
  • 1 kW of electric resistance heat = 3412 btu.
  • Assuming power cost of $0.153/kW.
  • If using electric resistance heat multiply the kWhr used by 3412 to determine the btu’s required annually. Now divide the annual heat requirement in btu’s by the HSPF x 1000 of the heat pump being installed.


Example: A home using 12,000 kW  of electric resistance heat per year installs a LG Prestige  #LAU180HYV1 with HSPF of 10.87.

12,000kW x 3412/btu/kW = 40,944,000 btu 

40,944,000 / (10.87 x 1000) = 3,760 kW energy required for heat pump

Original heating cost is 12,000 kW x $0.153/kW = $1836

Heat pump cost is 3,760kW x $0.153/kW = $575.3


Example B Oil Heat:

  • Assuming the cost of oil at $0.90/liter
  • If using oil or gas savings can be calculated using the following formula. Yearly oil consumption (liters) x furnace efficiency (avg is 73%) x 36,000 btu/liter /  HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor ) x 1000.


Example: A home using 2,200 liters of oil with a furnace efficiency 73%. 2,200 x 73% x 36,000 = 57,816,000 btu per year 

To calculate the cost of producing 57,816,000 btu per year with a heat pump we take the HSPF of the heat pump and divide it into the total btu’s per year. For this example we will use the LG Prestige model #LAU180HYV1 having an HSPF of 10.87 in region 5. Fisrt convert the HSPF from btu per watt to btu per kW by multiplying the HSPF x 1000

57,816,000 x (10.87 x 1000) = 5,318 kW x $0.153 = $813.65 




Things to consider when evaluating a heat pump.

Efficiency and Ratings

We have provided a link below to the Efficiency Nova Scotia’s approved list of heat pumps which qualify for a green energy rebate. These are the most efficient brands for each zone.  Heat pumps cool in summer and heat in winter, and each function has its own rating. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and applies only to cooling… HSPF stands for Heating Season Performance Factor and is basically the SEER rating for winter higher HSPF’s and SEER’s equate to lower operating costs.

Effiency Nova Scotia Green Rebate Heat pump list 


Warranty and reliability

Southwind Energy is able to offer 10 year manufacturer’s parts and labour warranty. We are dealers for Panasonic, LG and Mitsubishi.



For us to determine an accurate price for your home we recommend you get a free home assessment which usually takes from 30-45 minutes.

To get started fill out the application at the top of the page or call 902-403-1751 anytime and ask to speak with Gage.


General Maintenance

Maintaining your heat pump will ultimately determine the lifespan of your system. It’s very important that you maintain your heat pump for optimum performance and reliability.


1. Clean Indoor Filters

The filters catch dirt and dust from the air before it gets trapped in the inside coil. We advise you clean the filters once per month with a vacuum or a damp cloth. If these filters become clogged they will restrict air flow and your unit will not perform efficiently.


2. Clear debris from the outside unit (snow, grass, and leaves)

The next maintenance point for a  heat pump is to ensure the outdoor unit stays clear of snow in the winter, tall grass and weeds in the summer and leaves or other debris in autumn. If the outdoor unit does not have clear air flow then it will not perform efficiently. Snow buildup around the outside unit can also cause air flow restrictions.



How does a heat pump qualify for a rebate?

1. AHRI test and define the rating of each unit

2. A unit must then be ENERGY STAR RATED, granted by AHRI

3. The cold climate list looks at the unit’s energy star rating and sets a criteria that each unit, multi zone or single, must have a COP > 1.75 and a HSPF > 10.


Heat pumps are first tested and certified by AHRI (Air Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration Institute) who set and define the ratings for each unit. To earn the right to bear the AHRI Certified mark, manufacturers products undergo testing by independent laboratories under contract to AHRI. Equipment and components are evaluated and given the ENERGY STAR RATING using the appropriate industry standards to prove the manufacturer’s published performance ratings are accurate.

The Cold Climate List was designed to identify air-source heat pumps that are best suited to heat efficiently in cold climates. It is intended for engineers, contractors, and other practitioners who need assurance that the equipment they select will have the required heating capacity at design temperature without unnecessary oversizing, and will serve the load efficiently throughout the ambient temperature range.

Efficiency Nova Scotia is giving $200 rebate for every 12,000 btu or for every 1 ton rewarding home owners that are improving there home efficiency. To get started with the rebate process you need to fill out the Efficiency Green Heat Application on there website.

If you’re looking at ductless heat pumps then the units you purchase must be approved on the cold weather list of heat pumps from Efficiency Nova Scotia.

Tip ( If you have a home efficiency audit completed in your home then the ductless heat pump rebate increases to $400 for the first unit and $150 for every additional head you install after the first).


Heat pumps the we sell that qualify for the rebate

1. Lg Art Cool Prestige

2. Lennox

3. Panasonic

4. Mitsubishi Mr Slim

5. Lg multi zones


Get started today

Book your free in-home assessment today. We will send our heat pump experts to accurately select a system based on your own home layout and answer any questions you may have. All assessments are free of charge.


1. We will examine your electrical panel

2. Determine your home layout and sq footage

3. Define the best system based on your needs

Red Seal Technician’s

Proper installation of your heat pump is necessary to ensure it’s efficient operation. Southwind Energy  provides a RED SEAL TECHNICIAN on every install.


Request a Home Heat Pump Assessment & Receive An Additional Rebate of $150.  

One of our representatives will contact you shortly