Ontario has always been a strong market for geothermal heat pumps, especially during the most recent round of federal heat pump rebates several years ago. But the expiration of those rebates combined with the rising cost of electricity and natural gas’s increased popularity has left the economic case for a geothermal heat pump less clear-cut than before.
That is about to change as the Government of Ontario’s recently leaked Climate Change Action Plan outlines a renewed commitment to home energy efficiency and a low-carbon future.
According to the Globe and Mail, the Climate Change Action Plan outlines a massive $7-billion in planned spending in all areas of residents’ lives from infrastructure and transportation to home heating and industry. From electric cars and bike lanes to mandatory home energy audits (if you sell your home) and new building code rules, this plan contains 80 different policies grouped into 32 different “actions”.
Here’s the part we’re excited about:
Ontario Heat Pump Rebates (Both Geothermal and Air Source)
The Plan contains, among other things, $3.8-billion earmarked for new grants and rebates to retrofit older and inefficient buildings. The goal is to move off natural gas and onto electrically powered heat sources such as geothermal and air source heat pumps. There will also be incentives for solar power and other forms of electric heat.
These programs are slated to be administered by an organization known as the Green Bank, which is modeled after the NY Green Bank, a financial entity in New York state that specializes in working with the private sector to increase investment in New York’s green energy sector.
New Building Codes To Promote Geothermal and Air Source Heat Pumps
In addition to the grants and rebates for converting to air source and geothermal heat pumps, the Climate Change Action Plan will implement new building codes that will require buildings built in 2030 or later to be heated electrically by geothermal or air source heat pumps or other electric heating systems. The building codes will eventually be amended to include all buildings by 2050. Finally, all homes that are listed for sale in Ontario will have to undergo an energy efficiency audit.
Setting the Course for the Future
The Ontario Government recognizes that this is a massive undertaking and that moving the current housing stock off natural gas (currently 76% of heating in Ontario) will require a mass adoption of green technologies across the province.
Fortunately, Ontario is currently generating more electricity than current demand requires, which means this plan can be put into motion immediately without upgrading existing electricity generation infrastructure.
The plan also promises to subsidize increased electricity costs to homeowners. This and many other new programs will be funded from the revenue from the province’s new cap-and-trade system, which is expected to be approved by the legislature soon.
While more specific details of the Climate Change Action Plan are scheduled to be released in June, it is clear that this ambitious plan is the centerpiece of the province’s strategy to reduce emissions by 15% below 1990 levels by 2020.
Here at Nordic heat pumps, we’re excited to see the provisions for Ontario heat pump rebates laid out in the finalized plan in June.
Photo Credit: mariusz kluzniak