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Report: Carbon footprint confusion – many British Columbians unaware of best way to reduce emissions

VANCOUVER: A new BC Hydro report finds many British Columbians are misinformed about the best way to reduce their personal carbon footprint, which may have financial consequences.

The report titled “Clean misconceptions: Why replacing hydroelectricity with other renewables will not have the carbon saving impact most British Columbians expect,” finds that 40 per cent of British Columbians seeking to reduce their carbon footprint would select installing solar panels over the more effective choices of purchasing an electric vehicle or heat pump.

“Switching the power source for your home in B.C. means that you are replacing one source of clean electricity with another source of clean electricity,” says Simi Heer, BC Hydro spokesperson. “B.C.’s hydroelectricity is already clean, so if you truly want to fight climate change, a better way to go would be to switch to an electric vehicle or a heat pump for both heating and cooling.”

In fact, about half of British Columbians mistakenly believe solar is the cleanest option. When asked what the cleanest way to generate electricity is, British Columbians responded with:

  1.  Solar (45 per cent)
  2. Hydroelectricity (24 per cent)
  3. Wind (22 per cent)
  4. Nuclear (10 per cent)

About 15 per cent of British Columbians think their power comes from dirty sources like coal.

Making the switch to an alternate source would not have the same environmental benefits in B.C. as it would in jurisdictions that rely on fossil fuels for power. About 98 per cent of power in B.C. is generated from clean or renewable resources – most of it comes from large hydroelectric facilities, which are powered by water.

“We are working to improve carbon literacy for our customers. There’s an opportunity to raise awareness about how electricity is generated in B.C. so people can make wise choices and invest their money into technology that will have the biggest impact,” adds Heer.

Choosing an electric vehicle will reduce carbon emissions significantly when compared to a fossil fuel powered vehicle of the same size. It will also reduce fuel costs by about 80 per cent. CleanBC provincial and federal rebates of up to $8,000 are available for the purchase of a battery electric vehicle. BC Hydro and CleanBC rebates for home chargers are also available – up to $350 for single family homes and thousands in rebates available for multi-unit buildings.

Replacing a gas furnace with a heat pump for heat in the winter and cooling the summer will reduce a typical home’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to two tonnes per year. BC Hydro customers can receive a $3,000 rebate top-up if switching from heating a home with natural gas, oil or propane. When combined with the provincial CleanBC rebate and federal rebates customers could save up to $11,000. Some local governments also have additional rebates for their residents.

For more information on electric vehicles and heat pumps, visit

BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468