Upgrading your home’s space and water heating systems to heat pumps may be the single most important step you can take to reduce your home’s carbon footprint and help avert catastrophic climate change. Buildings are the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada after the oil and gas industry and transportation. The burning of fossil fuels for space and water heating is responsible for the bulk of these emissions.
As our community, our province, the nation and the world transition off of fossil fuels to prevent catastrophic climate change, electrification of our home’s space and water heating will become increasingly important. Indeed, think tanks have been recommending a switch to heat pumps for quite some time and governments are increasingly looking to the technology as a means of cutting greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.
In Waterloo Region:
- Waterloo Region’s Community Energy Investment Strategy identified opportunities to:
- Incrementally increase the number of residential buildings served by air source heat pumps to 30% by 2041 and the number of commercial buildings served to 40% by 2041.
- Incrementally increase the number of residential buildings served by ground source heat pumps to 20% by 2041 and the number of commercial buildings served to 40% by 2041.
- ClimateActionWR TransformWR
- Strategy 3.1: Decarbonize building heating and cooling, and water heating, by replacing furnaces and hot water heaters with highly energy efficient and low-carbon equipment or fuel sources.
- Action 3.1.2: Implement a public literacy campaign to explain and promote the adoption of heat pumps for space and water heating in residential and commercial buildings.
- Action 3.1.3 Switch home and business heating and water heating off of fossil fuels.
- The Made in Ontario Environment Plan includes a commitment to:
- Encourage the use of heat pumps for space and water heating where it makes sense, as well as innovative community-based heating systems (e.g. district energy).
- Canada’s Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change includes a commitment to:
- Conducting Canada’s first-ever national infrastructure assessment, starting in 2021, to help identify needs and priorities in the built environment, and undertake long-term planning towards a net-zero emissions future.
- Accelerating work with provincial and territorial governments to develop and adopt increasingly stringent model building codes, with the ultimate goal of a net-zero energy ready model building code by 2030.
- At a 2017 Energy and Mines Ministers conference, the following aspirational goals for Canada were outlined:
- By 2035, all space heating technologies for sale in Canada meet an energy performance of more than 100%. (note: at this time, only heat pumps can achieve this)
- By 2035, all water heating technologies for sale in Canada meet an energy performance greater than 100% (EF greater than 1). (note: at this time, only heat pumps can achieve this)
A research paper titled Carbon-Neutral Pathways for the United States stated:
- “All blueprints for the United States agree on the key tasks for the 2020s: increasing the capacity of wind and solar power by 3.5 times, retiring coal plants, and increasing electric vehicle and electric heat pump sales to >50% of market share.”
Rocky Mountain Institute publication “Heat Pumps for Hot Water: Installed Costs in New Homes”
- “Residential heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) are poised for explosive market growth in the coming decade due to technological advancements and political pressure stemming from climate and/or public health initiatives.”
As of December 2020, over 42 municipalities in the US have adopted residential building codes that promote or require electrification of space and water heating. This number is expected to grow rapidly.