Heat pump is a bit of a mislabel. Depending on the model, they can not only heat, but cool your home. Used appropriately, they can save money, although heat pumps operate best in moderate climates. Plan for supplemental electric heat, or a gas furnace, if temperatures dip below -20° C.
First, how they work. Heat pumps move cool air from outdoors into your home in spring, fall or winter, and heat it. On hot summer nights, they cool and air condition your home by transferring heat and humidity outside, the same way your fridge does. Since heat pumps don’t generate heat, but just move it around, they use about half the energy than an electric furnace or air conditioner. Advanced models can even heat water for your bath.
Ducted models can be included in new build construction or, at substantial cost, added to an existing home. Ductless models operate more like a portable air conditioner, and are better suited to condos, resale homes, and spaces where renovations are not feasible.
Look for Energy Star Ratings to reduce heating and cooling costs. Picking an oversized or undersized unit will add to energy bills. Ask a heating and cooling contractor what size to use based on your home’s size, windows, foundation, and construction.