The exterior air compressor of a Heat Pump Water Heater in snowy conditions

Electric heat pump water heaters are an energy-efficient way to provide buildings with hot water, but they don’t always work well in colder climates. This drawback is understandably a concern for Canadians, as they live in one of the most frigid nations in the world.  

This article will explain whether electric heat pump water heaters are a good option for Canadians. We’ll also discuss how to ensure your electric heat pump water heater works as well and as long as possible, along with some notable pros and cons of this type of system. 

So, let’s get started!  

Will Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters Work Well in Canada?

Electric heat pump water heaters will work well in most places in Canada as they’re hybrid units. Hybrid models use electricity as a backup if there isn’t enough heat in the air to heat the water. 

Are Some Canadian Regions Too Cold for Heat Pump Water Heaters? 

Electric heat pump water heaters will work well in Canada in areas that consistently experience temperatures above -13ºF (-25 degrees Celsius). Most places in Canada aren’t too cold for heat pump water heaters to work well, especially hybrid models.    

Many worldwide have noted the benefits of electric heat pump water heaters, including Canadians. Water heating is essential in many areas of the Western world, especially those that reach freezing temperatures, such as Canada. 

However, water heating requires significant energy use, and traditional water heaters are inefficient, resulting in higher energy bills and more wasted energy. 

As you can see, some concerns still prevent people from installing electric heat pump water heaters in their homes immediately. One of the predominant worries is that an electric heat pump water heater won’t work well in cold weather. 

This concern is significant for Canadians, who live in one of the coldest nations in the world. In fact, Canada is tied with Russia for the title of the most frigid country. 

With average daily temperatures of -5.6 degrees Celsius (21.9ºF), it’s understandable that Canadians are concerned about their water heaters working correctly.  

Luckily, electric heat pumps work in temperatures as low as -25 degrees Celsius (-13ºF). This temperature is much colder than the average daily temp throughout Canada, so in most places in the country, an electric heat pump water heater can heat your water, and you have nothing to worry about.    

However, we recommend Canadians purchase a hybrid model. An electric heat pump water heater pulls heat from the outside air and transfers it to water, so you get warm water throughout your home. 

A diagram showing the components of an electric heat pump water heater
Courtesy of the Department of Energy

In a non-hybrid model, if there isn’t enough heat from the outside air, your water likely won’t be able to get as hot as you may like. However, in hybrid models, the water heater regulates the water temperature and supplements the heat from the outside air with electricity. 

As a result, hybrid units in hot or mild climates use very minimal electricity. But in cold areas like Canada, more electricity is used to get the water to reach the desired temperature. 

We recommend reading our article on how electric heat pump water heaters work for more information on the matter. 

You might not have to use as much electricity as you think. Electric heat pumps produce as much as three units of heat per unit of electricity, so they’re one of the most environmentally friendly and energy-efficient ways to heat the water in your home. 

Cold-weather and hybrid electric heat pump water heaters have various features that allow them to continue working in cold temperatures. One of these features is cold-air refrigerants, which continue working through a system even in low temperatures. 

Additionally, electric heat pump water heaters typically have variable compressors, allowing the compressor to use the right amount of energy for the climate, whether hot or cold. 

Getting the Most From a Heat Pump Water Heater 

Suppose you’re concerned about your electric heat pump water heater failing you during colder months. In that case, one of the best ways to encourage its effectiveness and longevity is to take proper care of it and invest in regular maintenance. 

Some suggestions for making your electric heat pump water heater work the best it can include: 

  • Having an HVAC professional take a look at least twice a year – licensed HVAC technicians know what they’re doing, so there’s no better way to promote the efficiency of your unit than having one of these experts routinely evaluate it.  
  • Inspecting the valves regularly – if something were to go wrong with your electric heat pump water heater, it’s most likely to occur within one of the valves. Therefore, by checking the valves semi-regularly, you can reduce the risk of a minor issue becoming larger. 
Worker in blue overalls adjusting a valve on a hot water heater.
Making one simple adjustment on your hot water heater can save you a lot of money in the long run.
  • Clean the condensate drain – this drain can easily get clogged with mold or mildew, so you should try to clean it at least once a year. We suggest pouring distilled vinegar down the drain to do this. 

For the last step, try using Lucy’s Store Natural Distilled White Vinegar from We like this product because it contains no harmful preservatives that might damage your drain. We also appreciate that the vinegar comes in a durable bottle with a secure seal, so it will last a long time.   

By taking these simple steps, you can ensure your unit works the best it can, increasing its ability to heat water even in cold temperatures.  

Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters 

Before installing a heat pump water heater, it’s essential to know its advantages and disadvantages. 

We’ve already addressed the possibility that this type of system might not work well in colder temperatures. Now let’s take a look at some other vital drawbacks to be aware of.

Additional disadvantages include:

  • The upfront cost is higher – the unit and installation costs are significantly higher than a conventional water heater.
  • You’ll have to wait longer for your water to get hot – if you despise waiting for your shower to warm up, you might not be the right person to get an electric heat pump water heater.  
  • Electric heat pump water heaters require a lot of space – the unit needs approximately 750 cubic feet (21.24 cubic meters) to work, so you might not physically have space. 
Photo of the heat pump water heater in the corner of the garage of the First Attainable Home
Our first Attainable Home features an electric heat pump water heater.

With those disadvantages in mind, here are some pros to consider: 

  • You’ll save on your energy bill – electric heat pump water heaters are more energy-efficient than traditional water heaters, so you’ll need less energy overall. 
  • Electric heat pump water heaters are more environmentally friendly – a more energy-efficient system helps reduce your carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions – you’ll also be responsible for fewer toxic emissions. 
  • If well-maintained, electric heat pump water heaters last a long time – these units have a longer average life expectancy than traditional systems. 

If, after considering these pros and cons, you still aren’t sure if an electric heat pump heater is the right choice for you and your home, we recommend checking out our list of water heater types to understand your options better. 

If you’re still curious about the pros and cons of electric heat pump water heaters, check out our more thorough guide on their pros and cons.  


In most cases, electric heat pump water heaters will work in Canada because these units boast features and technology designed to continue functioning, even in frigid temperatures. 

However, Canadians should still look into installing hybrid models, so they can use electricity to heat their water if the outside temperature is too cold for the unit to function correctly.  


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