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Heat pumps can reduce energy costs by 35% and cut GHG emissions in half. [Image: FortisBC]

By Dale Lunan

BC utility FortisBC Energy said June 22 it had introduced Canada’s first commercial prescriptive rebate offer for gas absorption heat pumps, which studies have shown can reduce energy use by up to 35% and potentially cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in half.

“We’re the first utility in Canada to bring gas absorption heat pump rebates to our commercial customers and it’s an incredible milestone in helping them save energy, money and reduce GHG emissions, but our work doesn’t end here,” said Danielle Wensink, director, conservation and energy management at FortisBC. “This is another step in a new era of technologies that will help improve building and system efficiencies but not the last one.”

Gas absorption heat pumps use energy to capture heat from outdoor ambient air and transfer it indoors to heat the building, heat water and/or be used for ventilation. Because the energy output is greater than the energy input, the units can achieve efficiencies greater than 100%.

The rebate program gives commercial building owners an option to replace existing gas-fired boiler systems with higher-efficiency equipment, eight years ahead of BC’s 2030 commitment. Building owners can achieve even greater GHG reductions by opting to designate up to 100% of the gas used to fuel the heat pumps to be carbon-neutral renewable natural gas.

Under the rebate offer, organisations can be provided study funding of up to $20,000 to better understand how the heat pump technology can work in their facilities. They can also receive up to $35,000 to cover the costs of installing the technology.

FortisBC is already working with 17 organisations to install the technology in a healthcare centre, a firehall and several multi-unit residential buildings. Over the next two years, the utility will work with these customers to learn more about the installation process, customer experience and better understand ways to use the heat pumps to maximise energy savings.