According to a recent report from the Building Decarbonization Alliance and the Canadian Climate Institute, Canadians are missing out on a significant chance to reduce emissions from home heating and save a substantial amount on their energy bills.

The report, entitled The Cool Way to Heat Homes, highlights the increasing need for cooling solutions in Canada given the severity of recent heatwaves.

Instead of opting for central air conditioning systems, which many Canadians are currently installing, the report suggests that the installation of heat pumps could provide the same cooling benefits while helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs.

Heat pumps work by moving heat in both directions, making them suitable for heating during colder months and cooling during summer. Since heat pumps move existing heat, they consume less energy, leading to lower bills.

The report estimates that by 2035, Canadians could collectively save $10.4 billion on energy bills and reduce emissions by 19.6 million tonnes if heat pumps were adopted instead of air conditioning systems. The average Canadian household could save $349 annually by 2030.

However, due to the conventional practice of replacing air conditioners only when they fail, many Canadian homes are missing out on the long-term benefits of heat pumps.

The report discusses various policy options that could help unlock this potential, including regulations, building codes updates, and targeted incentives. These actions would not only benefit HVAC industry stakeholders but also help Canadians adapt to increasingly extreme temperatures.

Although the mechanics of air conditioners and heat pumps are similar, the advantages of transitioning to heat pumps are substantial. By using heat pumps for cooling, individuals can unlock vast financial gains while simultaneously making significant strides towards a net zero economy.

As Bryan Flannigan, the executive director of the Building Decarbonization Alliance, recently told Transition Accelerator:

As households across the country look for ways to adapt to increasingly dangerous summer heat, this report shows how we can turn a serious challenge into a tremendous opportunity. Encouraging the installation of heat pumps over air conditioners is a no-regrets action that we can take today that will save Canadians billions of dollars in energy costs while lowering our greenhouse gas emissions by millions of tonnes.

Greenhouse Institute director Alexander Gard-Murray highlighted the inefficiency of conventional air conditioning systems. He told Transition Accelerator:

Too many Canadians are being saddled with one-way central air conditioners that sit idle half the year. Two-way heat pumps can both keep families cool in summer and help heat homes in winter. Installing heat pumps instead of central ACs will improve comfort, save money, and cut bills. It’s a win-win-win for Canadian families.

Image Source: Jan Rosenow,