About two years ago, Heather McDiarmid replaced her furnace and air conditioner with a heat pump.
She says there were a few motivations for making the switch. One was that home heating was his family’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
“As a climate change professional, I know there is an urgent need to make deep cuts in emissions and I want to do everything I can,” said McDiarmid, who runs a climate change consulting firm in the Waterloo area. , told CBC News.
Many people, from scientists to residents of the Waterloo area, are concerned about the effects of climate change and are looking for ways to curb their use of energy to help the environment.
Statistics Canada reported that in 2019, nearly one-quarter of the energy used in the country was by households, and households were responsible for 18.4 percent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions, “domestic household energy coming from electricity.” due in large part to
In Ontario, household greenhouse gas emissions were 3.8 tonnes per person per year, comparable to the national average.
But Ivan Ferrari, executive director of Emerge Guelph, says many people don’t want to make a change if it has money to spend.
“Unfortunately, when it comes to the environment, the first thing people ask is: is it worth it financially?” They said.
“I would argue, do you want your kids to keep breathing? How much is it worth to you financially to make decisions that are ultimately going to prolong the problems of climate change?”
For the McDiarmid family, a heat pump cost more to install than another gas furnace, but it saved them money in the long run.
“It’s cheaper to operate than our gas systems and air conditioners … and we’re going to save back the extra upfront cost,” she said.
The McDiarmid family isn’t alone in switching to a heat pump and seeing the benefits.
Reap Green Solutions, an environmental charity based in the Waterloo area, posted a blog post Wednesday about a Kitchener couple who renovated their home using Canada’s Greener Home Grant. They upgraded the air ceiling and insulation in the home and replaced the gas furnace with a heat pump and reduced their energy consumption by 55 percent.
How does a heat pump work
The Canadian government touts heat pumps as a “proven and reliable technology” that works year-round, including on the wettest days of summer and the coldest days of winter.
Simply put, “a heat pump is an electrically driven device that extracts heat from a location with a lower temperature and transmits it to a location with a higher temperature,” according to the Natural Resources Canada website.
In the summer, explains McDiarmid, the heat pump takes hot air inside a house and pumps it outside.
In winter, it extracts heat from the cold outside air and transfers it inside.
“Your home is warmer and more comfortable overall,” McDiarmid says of the winter months.
She said she’s heard from people who’ve spoken to HVAC installers who’ve tried to block them from getting a heat pump and she worries that a lot of misinformation is being provided to customers. She says that while old heat pumps used to be noisy, didn’t work well in winters and used to cost a lot of money, that is no longer the case.
“Some people are concerned that it may not be able to provide enough heat during the winter time,” she said.
“This is a point where heat pumps have improved a lot over the past 10, 20 years and in particular they are much better at providing heat in really cold temperatures and they are able to do that very efficiently.”
free ways to save energy
Emerge Guelph is an organization that helps people reduce energy and water use. Ferrari says that for those still unsure of how to shell out the cash, there are some free things people can do to lower their energy bills and help the environment.
“People don’t operate their homes properly to avoid or minimize air conditioning,” he said.
“A perfect example is, we’re going to be in a severe heatwave this weekend … an easy task for people is to open the windows only when it’s cold out,” he said.
This often means opening windows overnight and closing them during the day, and if you can, even closing curtains or blinds.
Ferrari said people also need to understand off-peak hours for electricity and that it does more than save money on hydro bills.
“During times of high demand, we burn the dirtiest fuel to generate electricity,” he said.
He or she will visit the Independent Electricity System Operator website to view power data and what sources Ontario is using for its power at a particular time.
The province uses nuclear and hydropower extensively, but also uses wind, solar, natural gas and biofuels. Natural gas use will increase as demand increases, such as during heat waves.
If at 9 p.m. he notices that the province is still using too much natural gas, he can wait for the dishwasher to run, setting the time to 2 p.m. instead.
Another tip: Plan ahead and defrost your food in the fridge.
“If you put it in the refrigerator the night before, the energy used to freeze it first goes into the refrigerator. So the refrigerator works less,” he said. “When you take it out, it airs at refrigerator temperature as opposed to frozen.”
He said that on hot days people heat their homes by cooking food inside. He suggested people could get a single burner and boil water outside on the patio or back deck.
McDiarmid agrees to use an external burner and advises people to consider an induction burner.
“It uses far less energy than my electric coil cooktop. It boils water faster and, compared to gas, it has the same ability to go up and down in temperature more quickly, but I’m in my home.” I’m not burning gas and so I get far better indoor air quality than gas,” she said.
McDiarmid says people who need to replace their hot water tank can also look for a heat pump water tank. It looks similar to an electric one, and they often have electricity back-up if the home needs a lot of hot water at once, but it uses less energy to operate day-to-day. does.
Both Ferrari and McDiarmid suggest talking to people who have a heat pump or other green technology to better understand how it works for them.
Groups like Reap Green Solutions or Emerge Guelph have information on their websites and they say doing a little research will help people understand what’s right for their home and their pocketbook.
look | Reap Green Solutions posted this video to YouTube explaining how heat pumps work to heat and cool a home: