FortisBC Proceeding with Pilot Testing of Gas-fired Heat Pump
The B.C.-based utility is in the process of identifying six residential and four small commercial properties to test the ThermoLift heat pump units.
June 3, 2020
Despite physical distancing requirements being in place, FortisBC is continuing its pilot project of testing a new ultra-efficient natural gas heat pump, the first of its kind in B.C., with the help of video calls to tour potential pilot sites.
FortisBC, a regulated utility serving over 1 million customers in B.C., is in the process of identifying six residential and four small commercial properties to test the heat pump unit from ThermoLift, a U.S.-based heat pump manufacturer.
The heat pumps, used for heating, cooling and hot water, have proven to be over 100% efficient in lab tests, lowering energy costs by 30 to 50% for space and water heating and worked when outdoor temperatures dropped to -25C.
FortisBC launched its search for test properties in March and began assessing early applicants with a plan to conduct in-person site assessments but suspended work mid-month in response to COVID-19.
Using Google Street view as well as photos sent in by potential participants of their existing space heating and hot water systems, home assessments were able to restart. The utility has completed 18 virtual home assessments over video calling and has identified residential candidates to move forward in the next stage of the pilot program.
Applications are still open for small commercial properties.
FortisBC expects to install and begin testing the units later this year and early in 2021. In exchange for the heat pumps, participating property owners will allow the unit to be monitored and provide regular feedback for one year.
This information will help FortisBC better understand how these units operate on a day-to-day basis in a real world setting and determine if they meet the requirements for a full-scale energy efficiency rebate program.
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