Al Slavin's letter published in several newspapers.
As a trial program, Enbridge Gas is partnering with the Ontario government to offer homeowners in four Ontario cities Sault Ste. Marie, St. Catharines, Peterborough, and London, an incentive of $3500 to $5000 to install a “hybrid heating” system. The hybrid system combines an air-source heat pump or ASHP, (which can work efficiently down to about -25 C), with a high-efficiency gas furnace which cuts in at lower temperatures. Enbridge states that this will reduce energy costs over the long term (compared to gas heating only), reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly, and also provides air conditioning on hot days.
All this is true.
However, what the Enbridge offer does not say is that there is a cheaper approach that reduces greenhouse gases even more and also provides air conditioning: using an ASHP with a resistive heating element that cuts in at very low temperatures, which will happen only a few days a year.
The upfront installation cost is higher for this system than for a gas furnace, but a recent calculation by the Clean Air Alliance (https://tinyurl.com/4brrf4yk) shows that the average Ontario homeowner would save $4,000 over the 15-year lifetime of the equipment; this includes using the $5,000 federal incentive for installing an ASHP. Moreover, when this is combined with an ASHP for domestic water heating rather than a gas water heater, you can totally disconnect your gas line and save the $22/month Enbridge fixed charge which is there even if you don’t use any gas.
This increases the lifetime savings to about $10,000. Going the Enbridge route locks you in for the 15-year lifespan of the equipment, costs more overall, and damages the climate much more.
The time to prepare for this changeover is before your current heating system reaches the end of its lifetime. Note that not all ASHPs are equally efficient, so do your research beforehand and get several quotes from installers.