Thinking of installing an AC unit? A heat pump is better, says BC Hydro

After 2021's scorching summer heat, BC Hydro recommends moving away from power-sucking AC units

Visoot Uthairam/Moment/Getty Images

BC Hydro is working to address concerns British Columbians have over hotter summers and climate change with home improvement suggestions.

“Spring is the start of renovation season in B.C., but the extreme weather experienced across the province in recent years has many considering making home improvements that will better prepare them to brave an increasingly unpredictable climate — especially the summer heat,” said a report released by the provincial utility Friday.

Indeed, last year, the highest ever summer peak hourly electricity demand was recorded on June 28, when it reached 8,568 megawatts, the equivalent of turning on 600,000 portable air conditioners. The new high shattered the record set before the heat wave began by more than 600 megawatts.

BC Hydro is suggesting moving away from power-sucking air conditioning units and moving to heat pumps — an alternative it calls a better solution for the environment and electricity bill.

The report said realities of climate change are hitting home with 69 per cent of British Columbians concerned about the impacts of climate change on their home as another potentially scorching summer looms.

“This is likely why many (21 per cent) are taking on home improvement projects specifically to prepare for more extreme temperatures,” the report said.

“With almost 90 per cent of British Columbians directly impacted by last year’s extreme summer temperatures, it is no surprise that AC use is on the rise,” BC Hydro spokesperson Kevin Aquino said in a statement.

“BC Hydro data shows AC use has increased by about 50 per cent over the past decade from a quarter of British Columbians using it at home to nearly 40 per cent and new research suggests that figure could be even higher,” he said.

In September, BC Hydro reported that, after a summer of unprecedented heat and record-breaking demand for electricity, British Columbians were considering air conditioning a necessity — not a luxury.

While the demand for air conditioning in B.C. has increased from 25 per cent to nearly 40 per cent in the last decade, a study released by BC Hydro in September 2021 found that more than 20 per cent of British Columbians purchased or upgraded their air conditioning units and systems last summer, bringing the total number with AC even higher.

“This year (2022), a quarter of British Columbians want to install central AC,” the utility said.

It doesn’t have to be that way, BC Hydro said, noting a new survey indicates 16 per cent of B.C. residents said they aren’t aware that a heat pump can be used to cool in the warmer months.

BC Hydro noted those not making the switch are missing out on substantial rebates.

The utility offers up to $3,000 in rebates for switching from a fossil fuel-based system; it can be combined with provincial and federal rebates for a total savings of up to $11,000 on cost and installation with some municipalities adding additional rebates on top of that.

Up to $2,000 in rebates are available for customers switching from electric baseboard heating.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

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