In British Columbia, Canada, home heating powered by electricity (mostly from hydro) is the most cost-effective option, despite consumers believing natural gas is less expensive.
A new report by provincial utility BC Hydro finds growing concern among British Columbians about energy costs with home heating season around the corner. Many still think natural gas is the least expensive option, according to results of an online survey of 800 households.
“Bringing the heat: British Columbians concerned over energy costs, unaware that going all in on gas does not make dollars or sense,” finds 77% of those with natural gas home heating are concerned about rising costs, but more than half (56%) of British Columbians are unaware that electricity rates in the province are lower than natural gas prices, making an electric heat pump the most cost-effective option.
Nearly all (98%) of the electricity BC Hydro generates comes from clean or renewable resources that are mostly powered by water. In fact, more than 90% of BC Hydro’s generation is produced by hydroelectric power. The company generates more than 43,000 GWh of electricity annually to supply roughly 1.9 million residential, commercial and industrial customers. The utility is building the 1.1 GW Site C hydro project as well, which will bring additional electric generation to the province when complete.
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With the recent increase in natural gas prices, it is now less expensive for the average household in B.C. to heat with an electric heat pump than a natural gas furnace, said Mora Scott, BC Hydro spokesperson. “BC Hydro rates are among the lowest in North America and decreased by 1.4% this year,” she said.
Energy costs are soaring in Europe due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the cost of natural gas in B.C. is also on the rise – up about 31% since the spring – with prices set to go even higher for some customers.
A natural gas furnace costs around $731/year to operate, compared to $642/year for an electric heat pump. In addition, switching to an electric heat pump powered by water will reduce the average household’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 2 tonnes per year.
Despite a rise in cost, many BC customers who do not use a heat pump said they would not consider switching, often listing the cost of purchase and installation as a top concern.