British Columbia rebates target heat pump water heaters

Canadian province offers up to $4,000 to home installers of units, including Sanden’s CO2 models; commercial incentives also available.

John Miles of Sanden with CO2 heat pump water heater, including 119-gallon water tank on the right.

The Canadian province of British Columbia is offering substantial rebates to homeowners who install heat pump water heaters, including the COunit that Sanden has been marketing in North America over the past two years.

The rebates are part of a $24 million (CAD) program launched last September that provides up to $14,000 for a home and $200,000 for a commercial business to switch to high efficiency heating equipment and to make building envelope improvements. The program is the result of a partnership comprising the EfficiencyBC, the Canadian government, BC Hydro, FortisBC, BC Housing and many local governments, including cities like Vancouver, Victoria and Campbell River.

“So the city of Vancouver will provide a rebate if you want to switch from fossil fuels to a COheat pump,” said John Miles, Los Angeles-based general manager, eco products for Sanden International USA, in an interview at AHR Expo in Atlanta, Ga., this month. “Depending on the application, it can be up to $4,000.” This would cover the cost of the equipment, cutting installed cost in half or better, he added.

Commercial buildings, multi-unit residential buildings and non-profit housing are also eligible for incentives of $40-$70 per metric ton of greenhouse-gas reductions up to $200,000; upgrades could include switching to electric water-heating equipment.

Details on the rebates are available at https://efficiencybc.ca/incentives/.

Rebates are key to driving adoption of CO2 heat pump water heaters rather than more commonly used gas units, he noted. “Utilities are starting to get wise and realize they need to push change to make change.”

Utilities are starting to get wise and realize they need to push change to make change.”


At AHR Expo, Sanden showcased a larger, 119-gallon water tank for its heat pump system; the company has also added a 200-gallon tank to go along with its earlier 43- and 83-gallon models.

“The new tanks are aimed this year at the commercial market,” including large multi-family buildings, restaurants and institutions, said Miles, adding the smaller tanks are geared to the residential market.

For example, Kingway Apartments, a 24-unit town house development in Seattle, employs the one Sanden heat pump and 43-gallon tank per residence. By contrast, the 324-unit Monterey Pines apartment a low-income complex in Richmond, Calif., which is supported by grant money, uses a centralized system consisting of 96 heat pumps and 60 119-gallon tanks, one of Sanden’s largest deployments.

In total, Sanden has installed “a couple of thousand” CO2 heat pump water heaters in North America, Miles said.

While climate-friendly CO2 heat pump water heaters are 5-6 times more efficient than gas water heaters, gas is about 5-6 times less expensive than electricity so operational costs are “a wash.” Adding solar panels, however, makes the heat pump free to operate, he noted.

Progress remains slow for the heat pump water heater industry as a whole in North America, Miles said. “The mainstream HVAC industry is super slow at changing.” Still, he added, “the signs are all there and it looks like it could increase.” He added that, at the AHR Expo, “the acceptance of CO2 water heaters is growing.”

By Charlotte McLaughlin

Jan 25, 2019, 20:58




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