In Vancouver sixty percent of carbon pollution is due to the use of natural gas to heat buildings and hot water. The City of Vancouver under the Climate Emergency Plan is focussing on detached housing where half of these emissions come from, and has new regulations for Vancouver homeowners to replace furnaces and hot water tanks with mandated efficient upgrades, including electric heat pumps.Heat pumps are energy efficient, but can be more costly than conventional furnaces. You can review the Climate Emergency: Home Heating and Cooling program here, as well as some subsidies.
But the real issue is how to provide heating and cooling in apartment buildings which will be much more expensive for main plant heat pump installation. New York is showing the way with an innovative approach, announcing that both the state and the city will provide 70 million dollars to provide 30,000 window installed heat pumps in city owned apartments.
Through an incentive program state and city governments invited technology experts to look at how to decarbonize public housing. Gradient based in San Francisco with appliance maker Midea American designed a heat pump that perches on window sills, uses a standard 120 volt outlet, and can be installed using common hand tools. Gradient has now entered into a seven year contract to produce these heat pump units for the New York City Housing Authority.
In Vancouver where heat extremes are being experienced, these window sized units replace a centralized heating system, giving apartment dwellers individual control over their own living space temperatures. This also means that windows don’t need to be open in winter to moderate heat, and that space heaters which are fire hazards do not need to be used.
Even though the installation of 30,000 heat pumps will have more of an electrical impact on the grid,the increased load on the electrical grid will not require an upgrade.
The innovation with these apartment designed heat pumps is the use of R32 a new refrigerant that carries heat with a low environmental impact. Gradient is also developing an apartment window heat pump that can be used as a “supplement” to the main heating system of a building, and estimates the cost for each unit will be $2,000.