Trainer Rob Pope demonstrates air leakage data from a blower door test.
Heat pumps - Not just a load of hot air
CEA helps educate Rossland homeowners and contractors on heat pump fundamentals.
In Rossland, BC, homeowners and contractors recently had the opportunity to develop their understanding of heat pumps with Rob Pope of Ecolighten, an energy services and HVAC design company and a Retrofit Assist recognized training partner.
Retrofit Assist is CEA’s retrofit concierge service, designed to help homeowners take advantage of the improved comfort and cost savings achieved by investing in energy efficiency improvements.
Currently operating in Rossland, Squamish and Whistler, the program provides homeowners with step-by-step guidance on their retrofit journey while simultaneously building capacity in the contactor community.
The first event at the Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre was attended by 18 motivated homeowners. Retrofit Assist participants and other homeowners planning or considering the installation of a heat pump were given a presentation highlighting everything homeowners need to know about heat pumps and ventilation systems. The presentation was followed by a discussion addressing questions surrounding the house-as-a-system approach, heat pump installation process, questions to ask contractors and local permitting requirements.
Unlike a furnace or an electric heater, heat pumps do not generate heat. Instead, heat pumps capture warmth from the outside air and move it inside the house. At the same time, they are removing cool air from inside and pushing it outside. This works even in cold weather! And in warm weather, the system can be reversed to provide air conditioning.
For more information on heat pumps, download the Retrofit Assist Heat Pump Guide.
Helping contractors put theory into practice
The following day, a sold-out session at the Josie Hotel offered a more technical agenda specifically for contractors. This session included training on heat loss / heat gain load calculations using the CSA F280-12 standard to inform heat pump sizing.
F280-12 provides a code-compliant methodology for contractors and installation engineers to calculate heating and cooling loads on a room-by-room and block load basis. It applies to houses and small buildings as part of Part 9 of the National Building Code of Canada.
The importance of following the F280-12 standard cannot be overstated. Incorrect sizing of a heat pump can lead to an undersized system struggling to keep up with demand or an oversized system operating very inefficiently due to short cycling which can lead to system failure.
Homeowner Simon Arsenault (left) is shown a heat sensor by trainer Rob Pope (center left).
To give contractors more insight into Retrofit Assist, they headed out after the classroom session to visit the home of a Retrofit Assist participating homeowner preparing to upgrade their gas furnace with a heat pump as part of a hybrid heating solution.
The site visit allowed people to view an existing home project in progress and before any of the installation had started. Contractors did a visual evaluation to gather performance attributes of building envelope and HVAC equipment, witnessed a blower door testing to determine air leakage and followed the pre-changeout performance testing of gas furnace including static pressure testing and CFM measurement using a True Flow Grid. Each of these activities are critical to informing the appropriate sizing and selection of a heat pump.
Trainer Rob Pope leads discussion with contractors.
“These events make a lot of sense because it helps to connect the people involved in heat pump installations with the practical steps that are required for a successful installation,” said Rob Pope. “There are a lot of aspects to consider for both homeowners and contractors that are best communicated through discussion.”
Feedback from both sessions was positive and highlighted a need for future training events around right-sizing mechanical equipment in retrofits and new builds.
Learn more about Retrofit Assist at retofitassist.ca