My Heating & Cooling
In many large urban areas, the emerging standard for new buildings is all-electric, including lighting, cooking and heating, and this will only become more common in the future. Meanwhile, many older buildings will need to be retrofitted, which will be a multi-decade endeavour to improve efficiency and reduce energy demands.
Given that urban cities are densely populated with limited space and high rates of energy consumption, district energy systems will become more common over the next few decades. This means that instead of having individual furnaces and air conditioning units, there will be a network of hot and cold water pipes throughout the city. Pipes are usually buried underground and connect to a central plant where recycled or waste heat is transferred to a fluid via steam and pumped throughout the network to heat and cool homes and buildings. Often this recycled or waste heat comes from nearby industrial facilities helping to reduce energy requirements and emissions. The cooling part of the system works by pumping cold water from nearby water sources, including the Great Lakes, and often uses ice storage technology to cool water. Systems like this are already common in some urban cities in Canada, including Toronto, ON (see case study), as well as parts of Europe and the US.
Where these systems are not feasible, boilers and heat pumps are efficient options and will continue to become more common in the next few decades. Air-source heat pumps 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). Currently, hybrid pumps can help customers save money since they can run on high-efficiency natural gas when electricity prices are high. Overall, heat pumps will continue to become more efficient and inexpensive over the coming years as technology improves with costs predicted to fall 10-20% by 2025-2030 and 20-30% by 2040.
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Toronto Enwave District Energy System