Climate Friendly Homes

Learn more about how you can increase the energy efficiency and decrease the emissions from your home! 

The City of Victoria is encouraging all residents to take advantage of the thousands of dollars in available incentives, as well as free retrofit support programs to make their homes more climate-friendly. But what does that mean exactly?

A Climate Friendly Home is an energy-efficient, all-electric, zero-emissions home that does not burn fossil fuels such as natural gas or oil for heat, hot water or cooking.

 

Where to Start

Regardless of where you are in your home retrofit journey, there are plenty of free support programs and available incentives to help you take the next step to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency.

Not sure where to start or need help deciding on the next step? Visit BringItHome4Climate.ca to get access to:

  • A free virtual home energy check-up
  • Enhanced retrofit decision-making and technical support
  • Free retrofit resources, testimonials and special offers such as webinars and workshops

Do you have questions on rebates, requirements, how to find a qualified contractor or would like free energy coaching? Or are you ready to apply for rebates and need support with your application? Visit BetterHomesBC.ca for more information or to speak to a Home Energy Coach.

 

What Makes a Home Climate-Friendly?

A Climate Friendly Home:

  • Uses an electric heat pump for efficient heating in the winter and cooling in the summer 
  • Has an induction stove for fast, safe and cleaner cooking
  • Has an efficient electric hot water tank or heat pump hot water heater
  • Is well-insulated and draft-free for greater comfort and the lowest possible energy bills
  • Has no appliances or systems that burn fossil fuels, such as natural gas, propane or oil

 

Other things that you can do to make your home even more efficient and resilient are upgrading windows and older inefficient appliances, and considering solar panels

Get a personalized home energy efficiency upgrade plan by scheduling an EnerGuide Home Evaluation which also qualifies you for the Canada Greener Homes Grants!

 

A Climate Friendly Home is All-Electric

Most of us know that gasoline and diesel vehicles produce a great deal of climate pollution. Not as many realize that our homes also contribute a substantial amount of community greenhouse gas emissions.

Fossil fuels including natural gas and oil heat 54% of British Columbia homes and provide hot water for 42% of homes. That is why buildings represent 11% of the province’s overall greenhouse gas emissions—or about 6.9 million tonnes. Within the City of Victoria, half of our total GHG emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels for space and water heating in buildings. Many homes in the city are aging and very inefficient when it comes to energy usage which makes the problem worse and also results in lower home comfort and much higher energy bills.

The abundant supply of clean, renewable electricity in BC and the availability of high-efficiency all-electric options for building space and water heating means switching to electric is the most climate-friendly option.

 

 

Climate-Friendly Upgrades

  1. Heat Pump

    An air source heat pump is a key component to making a home climate-friendly. It takes heat energy from one place and moves it to another – just like a refrigerator. In summer, it moves heat out of the house, and in the winter, it moves heat into the house – even if it’s cold outside. Heat pumps are able to transfer heat using a process of evaporation and condensation of a substance called refrigerant that cycles between the indoor and outdoor units.

    Heat pump provide a lot of benefits:

    • Year-round comfort: A heat pump takes the place of both an air conditioner and a heating system, keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer
    • Maximum efficiency: When properly installed, a heat pump uses half to a third as much energy as electric baseboards or a gas furnace
    • Climate-friendly: For an average home heated by natural gas, switching to a heat pump reduces your carbon footprint by about the same amount as not driving your car for 9 months of the year
    • Better indoor air quality: Most heat pumps provide airflow and dehumidification with options to add an enhanced air filtration to clean the air circulating through your home of indoor pollutants, dust, pollen and other allergens
    • Great versatility: There are different types of heat pumps for different types of homes; central heat pump systems can use your home's existing ductwork whereas ductless mini-spit systems do not require ducting
  2. Efficient Hot Water Heater or Heat Pump Hot Water

    For most homes in Victoria, an efficient hot water heater will meet any household’s water needs.

    For homes that have the right configuration, a heat pump water heater is the most efficient way to heat hot water with electricity and is the most climate-friendly form of water heating available in BC.

    A heat pump water heater takes heat from one place and moves it to another by compressing and expanding refrigerant. To heat water, the heat pump pulls warmth from the ambient air and compresses it to increase the temperature. The heat flows through a condenser coil inside the hot water system to transfer heat to the water. Some models have a backup electric heat element to help meet demand during periods of high use. Benefits of heat pump hot water heaters include:

    • Energy savings: Uses dramatically less energy than all other types of water heaters
    • Climate-friendly: Where hydroelectricity or other renewable power sources are available, such as in BC, heat pump water heating systems provide a clean-energy alternative to natural gas, reducing your home water heating carbon footprint by over 95%
    • Reliability: Provides the same reliable hot water you are accustomed to with other systems
    • Smart controls: Adjust operating modes to find the setting that best meets your hot water needs
  3. Induction Stove

    A Climate Friendly Home does not have any natural gas appliances in the kitchen. Cooking over a blue flame not only produces greenhouse gases, it releases harmful pollution into your kitchen. If you like to know what is in your food, you might be surprised to learn what is in your air when you cook with gas.

    Compared with natural gas, induction cooktops are faster, safer, healthier and more heat-responsive. An induction cooktop uses electromagnetic fields to heat cookware directly, leaving the surface around pots and pans cool to the touch. Professional chefs are increasingly switching to induction because it is safer and results in a cooler kitchen.

    Check out why induction stovetops are preferred to natural gas:

    • Speed: Induction cooking heats food much quicker than a blue flame because the stove heats the pan directly, not the burner. You can boil water in roughly half the time.
    • Safety: Have you ever noticed that rotten egg smell of natural gas because you left a burner on? With induction, that will never happen again. With no open flame, you will also not accidentally catch a dish towel or dangling sleeve on fire. Also, the cool cooking surface is safer when kids and pets are in the kitchen.
    • Health: When you cook with natural gas, you release harmful pollution into your kitchen. A large body of peer-reviewed science confirms that gas cooking is hazardous for children with asthma. Running a range hood full blast will reduce, but will not eliminate, the risk. An induction cooktop produces zero pollution. A recent investigation found that using a natural gas stove for just 12 minutes can lead to what the WHO describes as dangerous indoor levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution.
    • Efficiency: With a natural gas cooktop, only about one third of the energy actually cooks the food, the rest is wasted heating the kitchen. Induction cooktops are about 95% efficient, while conventional electric cooktops are about 80 per cent efficient.
    • Temperature control: Those who cook on a natural gas stove often talk about temperature control, but there is a lag when you are heating and cooling the burner. An induction cooktop is more temperature responsive than gas.
    • Easy cleaning: You can wipe down an induction cooktop immediately after using it. There are no splashes or spills like those that you get when using a gas cooktop.
    • Comfort: The blue flame of natural gas doesn’t just heat your dinner, it heats your kitchen too. You might not mind that in the winter, but you likely will in the summer.
    • Aesthetics: Induction cooktops are sleek and modern-looking. 

    Note: Aluminum and copper cookware will not work on an induction cooktop.

  4. Efficient Building Envelope

    Although separate from each other – your insulation, heating and cooling systems, windows, doors, ventilation, exterior walls, foundation and siding make your house operate as a multi-component system, where all the components are interactive. Because your house operates as a multi-component system, sometimes energy retrofits to one component of your home can impact other components in unintended ways.

    Before starting to improve the efficiency of your home with one retrofit, it is a good idea to get professional advice to ensure that your investment in home energy improvements meets your expectations and that you will not be causing new issues. Planning your retrofits with a 'house-as-a-system' approach with the help of a professional will provide you with a long-term home energy improvement plan and recommendations on the order in which to complete energy retrofits.

    To get personalized advice to improve your home's efficency, schedule an EnerGuide Home Evaluation with a qualified Energy Advisor. Getting a home energy evaluation is also a necessary step to access rebates offered through the Canada Greener Homes Grants.