Now cheaper and greener to heat with electricity: BC Hydro

Electricity cheaper than gas

A new report from BC Hydro indicates that it is now cheaper and greener to heat with electricity as opposed to natural gas.

With winter around the corner, there is growing concern among British Columbians about energy costs with many still thinking natural gas is the least expensive heating option.

The report titled “Bringing the heat: British Columbians concerned over energy costs, unaware that going all in on gas does not make dollars or sense” finds that 77 per cent of those with natural gas home heating are concerned about the rising cost of natural gas, but most British Columbians, 56 per cent are still unaware that electricity rates in B.C. are lower than natural gas prices, making heating with an electric heat pump the most cost-effective option.

“With the recent increase in natural gas prices, for the average household in B.C., it is now less expensive 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 per cent this year.”

Energy costs are soaring in Europe due to the ongoing war in Ukraine and on Thursday gasoline prices in Vancouver jumped to an all-time high in North America. The cost of natural gas in B.C. is also on the rise – up about 31 per cent since July and set to go even higher for some customers. Those who use natural gas as a primary heating method at home are starting to take notice. For example, those with natural gas heating are more likely to have concerns over the cost of heating, with 77 per cent expecting their heating costs to go up this winter and 59 per cent more worried this year than in previous years about their home heating bills.

Despite a rise in cost, nearly half still think it is more expensive to heat a home with an electric heat pump than with a natural gas furnace, and many who do not use a heat pump said they would not consider switching to a heat pump, often listing the cost of purchase and installation as a top concern.

According to BC Hydro an electric heat pump is the clean, low-cost way to heat and cool homes in B.C. where 98 per cent of the electricity BC Hydro generates comes from clean or renewable resources that are mostly powered by water:

  • For the average household in B.C., it is less expensive to heat with an electric heat pump than a natural gas furnace. A natural gas furnace costs around $731/year to operate, compared to $642/year to an electric heat pump.
  • Switching to an electric heat pump powered by water will also reduce the average household’s greenhouse gas emissions by about two tonnes per year while saving money.
  • BC Hydro offers up to $3,000 in rebates for switching from a fossil fuel based system, which can be combined with provincial and federal rebates for a total savings of up to $11,000 on cost and installation with some municipalities adding additional rebates on top of that. Up to $2,000 in rebates are available for customers switching from electric baseboard heating.

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