Some heat pumps are designed operate independently without back up heating, while others are designed to use a back up heating system. Whether or not you need a backup heat source for your heat pump will depend on the type of heat pump you purchase, your climate zone, and the design and efficiency of your home.  In many locations of the province a back up heating system can be avoided by installing a cold climate heat pump. Visit the What is a Cold Climate Heat Pump FAQ for more information.

There are many options for a backup system. Many modern high efficiency heat pump systems come with an integrated electric resistance heating system that functions as a back-up system at low temperatures. For mini-split heat pumps installed in homes without ductwork, electric baseboards or high quality electric fireplaces are a viable back-up option. Natural gas heating systems can be used as backup systems for central heat pumps as well, but require special modifications to work as part of the same integrated home heating system. In many rural areas, wood heating is used to supplement a heat pump on the coldest days.

If you are looking to install a rebate eligible heat pump and plan to use a natural gas heating system as a back up system, special conditions apply. Please see details at Am I eligible for a heat pump rebate if it is combined with a gas, propane, or oil furnace as a back up? before you make a purchase decision.

Speak to a heat pump installer to find a system will work well in your home and meet rebate program criteria.


Did you see a building science or energy efficiency term you did not understand? Check out our glossary.