My Heating & Cooling

Rural Communities

In rural communities, heat pumps will become more common as well as high-efficiency biomass heating, including advanced wood stoves and wood pellets. In order to make wood pellets, low grade logs, wood chips and sawdust are collected from sawmills and logging operations and compressed into pellets. These pellets can then be used in stoves and boilers to efficiently heat homes and are a greener option relative to diesel.

Other heating and cooling options that will become increasingly common in rural communities are air-source and ground-source heat pumps. Air-source heat pumps can be attached to the sides of houses or buildings and work by transferring heat from outside to inside, or vice versa depending on whether heating or cooling is required. These systems can either run on a single type of energy (i.e. electricity) or multiple, if it is a hybrid pump (i.e. electricity and natural gas or a renewable alternative). Hybrid pumps can help customers save money by running on electricity when prices are low and switching to high-efficiency natural gas when electricity prices are high. In comparison, ground-source heat pumps transfer heat to and from the Earth to heat and cool buildings and houses. In general, these systems are more expensive because they require piping to be buried underground but they are extremely efficient since underground temperatures are much more stable than air temperatures throughout the year.

Across Canada, the adoption of heat pumps is expected to increase from 10-20% of new and replacement systems by 2030 and then increase from 40-70% by 2040. In addition to being more efficient than traditional heating systems, heating pumps will become more affordable as prices are expected to fall by 10-20% by 2025-2030, and 20-30% by 2040. As heat pumps become more common, as well as electric water heaters, baseboard heaters and electric boilers, electricity use in Canada is expected to increase from 38% in 2011 to 57% in 2030. With an increased dependency on electricity and more efficient heating and cooling systems, residential energy demands are expected to decrease by 15% by 2040 relative to 2017 levels. Rooftop solar panels are also expected to become more common helping to provide clean electricity to power heating and cooling systems.

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Remote Communities in Northern Canada

Given the colder climates, lack of utility grids and remoteness of communities in Northern Canada, there are fewer energy options and higher costs when it comes to heating and cooling homes. Currently, many remote northern communities rely on diesel for their energy needs while some depend on local or regional electricity grids or liquefied natural gas (LNG), which has to be trucked-in.

Moving forward, it is predicted that communities will reduce their dependence on diesel as electricity and utility grids develop and expand while also becoming more reliable through renewable energy, including solar panels and wind turbines. In particular, solar panels will help reduce diesel consumption in summer months while winter months will remain a challenge due to reduced sunlight. Despite this, solar panels helped offset approximately 200,000 litres of diesel consumption in remote communities in 2016. Lower diesel consumption will also help reduce the amount of harmful emissions entering the atmosphere.

In comparison to other provinces, heat pumps will not be as widely adopted but there will be a greater dependence on biomass, including advanced wood stoves and wood pellets (see case study). Energy efficiency will also improve for heating and cooling technologies, similar to other provinces and territories.

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Wood Pellet Heating

Norman Wells, NWT and Revelstoke, BC