Count every kWh

If Canada is to achieve environmental sustainability in the transition of heating applications off fossil fuels, a new perspective is needed:

  • Energies must be measured in a comparable format, but not using terms such as Btu, horsepower, therm, quad, ton, calorie, cubic foot, etc.  Technologies that produce thermal energy for heating space & heating water must speak in electric-ese by quantifying their output in kWh.
  • Energy cannot be created (First Law of Thermodynamics) but a heat pump produces energy by transferring heat through a mechanical process that is more complex than a solar panel producing energy from the sun or a turbine producing energy from the wind.
  • The thermal energy delivered into a building by a heat pump is renewable energy from the ground or air  (the system requires electricity to operation its compressor, etc)  and should receive the same recognition as other forms of renewable energy.
  • A heat pump can produce & deliver all of its renewable energy on a dispatchable basis which provides significant benefits in stabilizing energy supply, reducing CO2 emissions and facilitating a smart grid, while eliminating the need for expensive storage.
  • Heat pumps are much more than just energy efficient.  Thermal energy for buildings is usually produced by a gas furnace;  a heat pump delivers that same amount of energy ... but as renewable energy with less purchase of commercial energy, and with no carbon emission from its production & transfer.
  • Assuming the building is well insulated (a prerequisite), a heat pump can produce its thermal output by consuming performance power during off-peak periods, which saves operating costs and generation peaking.  For example, the Ontario Energy Board will implement an "ultra-low overnight price plan" in 2023.
  • By counting its production of thermal energy in kWh, a building with a heat pump becomes a producer of energy instead of just a consumer of energy, and allows consumers to take an active personal role in addressing energy & environmental challenges.
  • Thermal applications in Canada’s homes consume 352 billion kWh of energy (NRCan 2019) and emit 54 million tonne of carbon for heating;  another 216 billion kWh / 37 Mt in commercial buildings.  That means heat pumps can produce 568 billion kWh of thermal energy on demand as renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions by 91 Mt.
  • That 91 Mt is 20% of all the anthropogenic energy GHG emissions in Canada across all sectors (transportation, industry, agriculture, residential, commercial) tracked by NRCan.
  • The average household in Canada consumes 23,319 kWh of thermal energy (NRCan), which a heat pump can produce by consuming 7,287 kWh to operate its compressor & pumps (this consumption can be much lower if the heat pump exceeds the minimum COP), plus 4,969 kWh for lights & appliances.  This ratio of 23,319 production to 12,256 consumption exceeds the definition of net-zero ... the house is NetZeroPLUS and eliminates 3,606 kg of carbon.
  • In 2010, the average ground source heat pump produced 15,000 kWh of energy (NRCan) which is lower than current levels due to increased system efficiency and other reasons.
  • Quantification of the renewable energy produced & delivered by a heat pump would allow the technology to qualify for production tax incentives, clean energy credits, carbon offsets and other inducements provided to energy technologies which produce renewable energy and/or reduce carbon emissions.  Counting every kWh is key to the future of electrification and for balancing claims of net-zero in the buildings sector.

Bottom line:  heat pumps must qualify & quantify their output in kWh units, so the energy they produce & deliver can be validated by governments, utilities & consumers as a sustainable & zero-carbon source of renewable energy.

Count every kWh  …  or your climate accounting is not complete.



NetZeroPLUS Canada                 (613) 663-5200                    NetZeroPLUS@email.com

incorporated to promote transparency amid the growing claims of net zero