Heat Pump Heating: Thoughts and Observations

Another sparkly, cold, brittle, blue, sunny day!

I had a sleepless night last night. Every so often I would rise from my bed, pad barefoot to the living room, to lift the curtain to gaze at the bright stars above. They seemed so bright, mesmerizing, reassuring. I am a transient form of stardust.

Ginger silently watches my nocturnal pilgrimages, before resting his head to sleep once more.

This cold weather brings into focus the benefits of the new heating system. The fellow who installed the heat pump and electric furnace replaced our ductwork and redesigned it in the process. The improvement in air quality and circulation around the house is striking. It is very cold outside this morning, and yet, with the thermostat set to 22.5C, I am comfortable walking around in bare feet, without a sweater, in my pajamas. The floor is as warm as the furniture and air. Heating vents were added to the unheated basement, and this combined with the improved ductwork, distributes the heated air to all areas of the house.

It is good luck that Attila insulated the basement in the last few years, including the sill plates, so that heating the basement is feasible. Now our weak spots, where we lose significant heat, are the uninsulated exterior walls, the old back door, and the basement door. These projects are farther down on the list, being lower priority than a new metal roof, and fixing the back porch. We have added a new project to our list, and that is saving to make a payment on our mortgage, which will increase our expenses substantially when it comes time for renewal. The higher interest rates will affect us unfavourably.

Our electricity bills are going to increase, as we no longer switch to oil heating when the temperature dips below -7C, as we did with the old system. Now as the temperature drops our electricity usage increases, first with the new heat pump that works harder as it gets colder to -28C, then below -28C with the electric furnace, aka “the toaster”.

The electric furnace is an expensive source of heating, but worth the expense because it will kick in at the very low temperature and keep the house warm when it is too cold for the heat pump. The downside is that the heat pump uses the electric furnace to stabilize significant sharp temperature changes out of doors, changes we make on the thermostat that the heat pump does not quickly respond to, and defrosting events for the outdoor coils in very cold weather. These circumstances of winter temperatures when the electric furnace kicks in bump up our usage, and our bill. As far as I can tell every time the electric furnace intervenes on the air pump’s behalf, it costs around 55 cents per hour. It will be a whole year before we can accurately assess the expense of running the new system. But so far so good.



Updated on Mon, Jan 16, 9:25 AM
-12 °C
Win 7 N km/h
Humidity 82 %
Visibility 22 km
Sunrise 7:39 AM
Wind gust 11 km/h
Pressure102.2 kPa
Ceiling 9100m
Sunset 4:55 PM


      Leave Them Alone

There’s nothing happening that you hate
That’s really worthwhile slamming;
Be patient. If you only wait
You’ll see time gently damning

Newspaper bedlamites who raised
Each day the devil’s howl,
Versifiers who had seized
The poet’s begging bowl.

The whole hysterical passing show
The hour apotheosized
Into a cul-de-sac will go
And be not even despised.

Patrick Kavanagh, Collected Poems (edited by Antoinette Quinn) (Penguin 2005), page 158. The poem was first published in May of 1950. Ibid, page 277

How wonderful to have stumbled into this poem, shared by another blogger! Reading it I thought it was a contemporary critique of the current madness in the world around us, but found that it was published in May of 1950. I find it conceptual in a variety of ways.
It certainly conveys my attitude towards news and social media. The context of the poet lends lends potency to the message, who had experiences and connections beyond the narrow and dominant affluent strata.

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Joan Lansberry

I’m so glad your new heating system is working well for you! <3


I like your quote, it seems perfect for the McCarthyism of the 40s-50s as well as 2023.

Sorry you’re having so much cold over there. Except for a few days, our temperatures have been pretty reasonable, usually just below or above freezing for highs. I have an internet friend in Michigan, she says she saw a robin today!


Personal question and you don’t have to answer but I am curious about total square footage of living area in your home. This does not include basement.

My home is 1,600 square feet which in my area is a bit small. My daughter lives with me and we have lots of room. I live in the Mid west US. Anyway I enjoy reading your blog and I love reading about the veggies and recipes.