We’re excited to share that the heating and cooling challenge was a success! Below is a list of 5 accomplishments, including installing a heat pump. Sometimes the gravity of the climate crisis can feel overwhelming, and it’s helpful to celebrate the small wins.
1. Cold climate heat pump installed!
We’re grateful to Reliance who installed our heat pump on Tuesday, October 31st. Our boiler stopped working that day and we were without heat. The timing was impeccable, and our heat pump is doing a great job at keeping us warm. We’re grateful that our boiler has also been fixed. Our Trane cold climate heat pump will do the majority of heating/cooling for our home, and the gas boiler will only kick in during very cold temperatures (i.e. in -30, 60% of heating will be from the heat pump, supplemented by 40% from the boiler).
One common myth is that heat pumps cannot be used in colder climates. This Heat Pump myth buster by Efficiency Canada estimates that heat pumps alone can heat more than 90 per cent of the time in Canada’s coldest cities. Air-Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) can also reduce electricity consumption for space heating by at least 50%.
2. Our heat pump reduces our emissions!
Heat pumps are key to hitting Canada’s emissions reductions targets. As the Canadian Climate Institute points out, emissions from heating have remained flat since 2005. In order to align with Canada’s climate targets, the number of homes with heat pumps need to double to over 10%.
In Manitoba where electricity is 97% emissions-free, using a heat pump which runs on electricity helps to reduce our emissions. While the hydro from Manitoba is emissions-free , it’s also important to recognize the negative consequences of hydro, including flooding and displacement of many Indigenous communities. This report by the International Energy Association explains that “Heat pumps, powered by low‐emissions electricity, are the central technology in the global transition to secure and sustainable heating.” Even when running on emissions‐intensive electricity, heat pumps still reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% compared to a gas boiler. The emissions reduction can be as large as 80% in countries with cleaner electricity. Heat pumps use up to 70% less energy than traditional technology.
Our baseline emissions from heating/cooling was 3.6 tons per year according to our energy audit. How much did our heat pump reduce our emissions? Between 20% (0.72 tons) to 80% (2.88). We estimate that it’s closer to 80% reduction given that electricity is nearly emissions-free. We need to also factor in that we will use the gas boiler about 10% of the time (10% of 3.6 = 0.36). Therefore we estimate our emissions reduction to be around 2.52 (2.88 – 0.36 = 2.52). Our estimate is that yearly heating emissions have been reduced by more than half!
When we add our estimated emissions reductions from heating/cooling (2.52 tons) plus our emissions reductions from commuting of minus two gas cars plus one electric (4.46) we estimate total annual yearly household emissions reductions of 6.98 tons! This is significant given the average carbon footprint of a person living in Canada is around 15 tons.
3. We explored geothermal, electric boiler, and electric hot water tank
We connected with Southern Mechanical to learn more about geothermal as an excellent option that is very energy efficient. We are encouraged to see other families in the challenge move forward with this option, allowing them to stop using gas completely to heat/cool their home. Geothermal is more of a challenge for our home, since our heating system is currently using a boiler/radiators, and we learnt your home needs to have HVAC/duct system in place for geothermal to be installed by Southern Mechanical. It’s a great option for many homes who currently have ducts/furnaces or who are wanting to upgrade to a system with ducts. We applaud recent announcement by the new Manitoba provincial government for 5,000 homes to be geothermal.
In addition to making the decision to move forward with the heat pump, our family is also reviewing quotes to replace our gas powered boiler and hot water tank with electric options to completely remove our homes reliance on natural gas for heating in the future.
4. We’re approved for various grants.
- We applied to the Canada Greener Homes Loan to help fund our net zero home improvement projects.
- Our application to the Canada Greener Homes Grant was approved and we are eligible for $5000 for our cold climate heat pumps.
- Our application to Efficiency Manitoba’s Home Energy Retrofit program has been approved! The total estimate of savings from our projects (heat pump, insulation, and triple pane windows) is approximately 37 GJ. We are eligible for rebates of approximately $4,600. It was great to connect with one of the founders of the program Allison Lund to learn more.
5. We’ve learnt so much about heating and cooling for homes!
We see how upfront costs can be barriers to uptake of important energy efficiency upgrades for so many families. We are grateful for the existing programs in place, and we advocate for continued and expanded investments in making clean energy and energy efficiency affordable for everyone, especially low-income households. We are grateful to groups like Climate Change Connection and Manitoba’s Climate Action Team who have charted a path for a fossil fuel free future for Manitoba. We also appreciated this recent analysis by project drawdown about 20 the most effective ways to reduce personal emissions. We’re excited to see heat pumps on there!
As we learn more, we become stronger advocates for transitioning to clean energy. We are beginning to learn how to walk the net zero talk.