Heat pumps are more affordable than ever in B.C. with a provincial sales tax (PST) exemption and the launch of a new incentive to help people switch to the cleaner, energy-efficient technology that works in warm and cold climates.
Recognizing the higher costs associated with some cold-climate heat pumps, applications for the new Northern Residential Heat Pump Top-up Incentive have opened as part of the CleanBC Better Homes and Better Buildings programs.
The new funding can save northern homeowners an additional $3,000 on the overall cost of a new heat-pump system. British Columbians, no matter where they live in B.C., can also save an additional $300 on a heat pump purchase as the Province has removed the PST for the next five years. Combined with other provincial and federal rebates, people can now save up to $14,300 on the equipment and installation.
“Heat pump technology has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, allowing people in B.C.’s colder climates to benefit from the efficiency and savings associated with this cleaner option and reach strong emission-reduction goals,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance. “There are heat pump options that will work for every part of the Province.”
Heat pumps are an environmentally sustainable heating and cooling technology, with some heat pumps proven to work in temperatures of -30 C. They also provide the additional benefits of reducing cooling costs and improving indoor air quality during heat waves and summer months.
New technologies mean that heat pumps in colder climates can provide significant cost savings and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. An example of a community that has seen these benefits, thanks to its switch to heat pumps can be found in the northern and remote First Nations community of Klemtu on B.C.’s Swindle Island. With winter temperatures dropping to -25 C, the decision to upgrade their homes with electric heat pumps is reducing reliance on fossil fuels and saving residents money.
“Our goal is to be the greenest community on the coast,” said Chief Doug Neasloss of the Kitasoo Xai'xais Nation. “We’re in the third stage of installations this week, supporting our goal to be fossil fuel free within the next two years. Not only are heat pumps reducing the community's carbon footprint, but we’re seeing savings of approximately $3,000 per household.”
With the installation of 32 heat pumps in homes and community spaces, including all rooms in the Spirit Bear Lodge, the Kitasoo Xai'xais Nation has a target of installing 100 heat pumps. The Nation also installed a heat pump at the Klemtu museum and has had success in indoor climate control due to the pump’s ability to both heat and cool spaces, protecting delicate artifacts in diverse temperatures.
While some communities like Klemtu have already made the decision to switch to heat pumps and are seeing the benefits of this new technology, the additional cost of cold-climate heat pumps has been a barrier to others. The northern top-up incentive is designed to reduce that cost barrier and help more people in northern communities make the switch and see similar reductions in costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Heat pump options eligible for rebates and the new northern top-up incentive include all-electric systems and hybrid systems – dual fuel heat pumps which can be integrated with a natural gas furnace for back up heat. The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation is working with HVAC contractors in northern communities to ensure accredited heat pump installers are available throughout the region.
Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation –
“British Columbians are looking to find ways to lower their carbon emissions and heat their homes without the harmful environmental consequences. Investments in technology like heat pumps are helping us reach those goals. We are taking a forward-thinking approach and building a cleaner, better future by installing this advanced technology.”
Willy Stjerneberg, Apex Plumbing and Heating, Klemtu heat pump installer –
“The entire village of Klemtu was, at one point, reliant on oil. Reduction in emissions from these heat pumps installations, plus the savings of hundreds of dollars per month for some residents is huge. The increased demand for heat pumps in northern communities is very noticeable.”
Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness –
“With the mass adoption of heat pumps in Klemtu, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation is becoming a great example of climate change leadership on the Central Coast. This leadership will pave the way for this type of local clean energy adoption in other Northern and Indigenous communities.”
Indigenous communities can access the Indigenous Community Heat Pump Incentive, which provides up to $12,000 in incentives, here: https://betterhomesbc.ca/rebates/icec-offer/#:~:text=Up%20to%2080%25%20of%20the,a%20central%20heat%20pump%20system
What is a heat pump and how does it work? BC hydro provides information on how heat pumps operate, found at: https://www.bchydro.com/powersmart/residential/building-and-renovating/considering-heat-pump-info-tips.html#:~:text=a%20heat%20pump-,How%20a%20heat%20pump%20works,cool%20air%20inside%20your%20home.
A backgrounder follows.