Knowledge gap preventing homeowners from buying heat pumps
VANCOUVER: A new survey conducted on behalf of BC Hydro finds many British Columbians are hesitant to install a heat pump because of lack of awareness and misconceptions about how they operate.
“Many British Columbians are missing the benefits of a heat pump including thousands in rebates and significant reductions in carbon emissions because they are sticking with what they know,” said Kevin Aquino, BC Hydro spokesperson. “We want to dispel the more common heat pump misconceptions so British Columbians can make informed decisions about the best way to heat and cool their homes.”
Just over a quarter of British Columbian homeowners expect they will have to replace their natural gas furnace within the next five years, and almost a quarter (24 per cent), said they are unlikely to consider installing a heat pump, with another 14 per cent saying they are unsure. Part of the reason for the hesitancy is a lack of heat pump knowledge. For example, 30 per cent of those who are not likely to replace their natural gas furnace with a heat pump said it is because they do not know enough about heat pumps.
“Heat pumps have been around for a long time and, in the past did not work for everyone, but recent advances in their technology have made them the perfect alternative to heating with gas or fossil fuels for most British Columbians,” Aquino added.
To help improve heat pump literacy, BC Hydro is busting common heat pump misconceptions:
Misconception: Heat pumps do not work in cold weather. Eighteen per cent said they believe heat pumps do not work well in the cold.
Fact: In recent years, technological advances have allowed heat pumps to perform in very cold temperatures – some can provide adequate heating in temperatures as low as -30 degrees C. In very cold climates, supplemental heating from other sources like electric baseboards can help.
Misconception: Heat pumps are expensive. More than 30 per cent of British Columbian homeowners who have not considered installing a heat pump said they think it is too expensive to buy and install.
Fact: While some higher-end models can cost a bit more, the average cost to buy and install a system for small homes is about $7,000 and about $16,000 for larger homes. In many cases this is comparable to costs of installing both a gas furnace and central air conditioning. BC Hydro offers up to $3,000 in rebates for switching from a fossil fuel-based system, which can be combined with provincial and federal rebates for a total savings of up to $11,000 on cost and installation. Some municipalities offer additional rebates on top of that.
Misconception: Heat pumps are costly to operate (16 per cent of British Columbian homeowners think so).
Fact: While costs depend on many factors including type of system, size and location of a home, heat pumps can be 300 per cent more energy efficient and much less expensive to run than electric baseboard heaters, and comparable to the cost of natural gas heating without the harmful environmental consequences. With B.C. summers getting hotter because of climate change, heat pumps can also cut down on cooling costs. They are more efficient than portable air conditioning or window units, which are on the rise in B.C., and can reduce your carbon footprint when switching from a natural gas system because they use clean hydroelectricity.
Misconception: Heat pumps are noisy and take up a lot of space. Eight per cent of British Columbian homeowners said they think heat pumps are noisy, and seven per cent said they take up a lot of space.
Fact: Most outdoor units have a sound rating around 60 decibels, which is comparable to the sound of light rainfall. Indoor units are even quieter and generally between 18 and 30 decibels. Ultra-quiet models are also available. Air source heat pumps require very little room, and the inside units are compact and mounted on walls.
For more information on heat pumps and rebates visit powersmart.ca.
BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468
 Online survey conducted by Majid Khoury of 800 British Columbians homeowners whose main heating source is natural gas between April 1–4, 2022, margin of error 3.46%.