Monday November 6, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 1:42 pm]
Reducing emissions and/or reducing cost to households?
Last week Premier David Eby said that helping people — not carving out one particular type of heating fuel — would be the way to go for best use of a mechanism to help households shift to the use of heat pumps.
The goal would be two-pronged: reduce the carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels (oil and natural gas) for home heating, and help households with the ongoing affordability issues of everyday living in this inflation-scorched economy.
Eby took his political charm to Halifax for the two-day Council of the Federation meeting of Canada’s Premiers. For a quick photo op he donned a “I [Heart] Heat Pumps” T-shirt for the benefit of media cameras and perhaps as an inspiration to other premiers.
“Happy to be in Halifax meeting with the other premiers about healthcare, BC’s interest in federal support for heat pumps, the current housing crisis, people struggling with affordability – oh and did I mention heat pumps?”, said Eby in a social media post this morning.
Atlantic Canada focus:
The federal government thought it was helping with affordability for many Atlantic region Canadians by giving them a 3-year break on home heating oil carbon tax. Apparently 97% of households use oil furnaces for home heating.
But that backfired politically as it looked — on the surface — like political favouritsm for Atlantic Canada Liberal MPs who had been pressuring their federal leader because of the cost-complaints from constituents.
Carbon tax backfired:
The carbon tax had been designed to apply financial pressure on households to shift away from burning oil to finding green solutions.
That strategy didn’t work for a number of reasons, most notably the up-front costs of transitioning a heating system with in recent years the additional burden of overall cost of living challenges.
Meanwhile, Eby said in national media this weekend that the carbon tax has worked in BC — saying carbon emissions are down.
Hot and cold:
Heat pumps can be used to cool in the summer as well as heat in the winter.
Use of heat pump operation relies on electricity. If the power goes out, people will want to have a backup generator (those can run on carbon-based fuels, or electric battery).
All of it is a costly investment and a considerable lifestyle and budget shift for many households. Where landlords rent out homes and buildings using old heating technologies, the shift will be even slower.
The federal NDP says they are calling for “all types of home heating” to be covered by whatever reduction, carve-out, pause or elimination that the federal government might come up with for a home heating-related break on the cost of everything.
It’s obvious that reducing the amount of heating oil and natural gas burned for heating would be a benefit to the environment and easily tracked in terms of billing; it’s less obvious how those who heat entirely with electricity would be similarly compensated (unless electric baseboard heaters were put onto a separate meter).
Today NDP House Leader Peter Julian posted in social media: “Stay tuned for the #NDP motion tomorrow – Heat Pumps for families at a scale needed to fight the #ClimateCrisis like we mean it.”