BC Hydro heat pump rebate not eligible for condos, frustrated owner finds

Kathleen Harold lives in a condo and says the summers in B.C. can be unbearable. “I face east, south, and west and the heat can get just dreadful here, absolutely dreadful,” said Harold.

Harold says it’s one of the main reasons she invested in a heat pump which can also be used to cool a home.

The Mission resident says after seeing and hearing countless BC Hydro ads promoting rebates around the purchase of a heat pump, she decided to buy one assuming she would get some money back.

“I presumed I would get a few thousand dollars back. I really did,” Harold told Consumer Matters.

However, when it comes to heat pumps and rebates, condos along with high-rises and apartment buildings are ineligible for rebates.

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“It shocked me when I saw that condos don’t get a rebate,” Harold said.

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BC Hydro spokesperson Mora Scott says energy consumption in apartments and condos is significantly lower than single-family homes.

“At this time unfortunately condo owners are not eligible for a heat pump rebate because the heat pump rebate is actually meant to encourage fuel switching from gas to electric or for high-consuming electrical customers which typically condo owners aren’t,” said Scott.

Scott says in Harold’s case her annual average electricity consumption over the past three years was 5000-kilowatt hours.

“To provide a little context around that if you look at the average townhouse it’s around 11,000 kilowatt hours per year and the average home is about 17,000-kilowatt hours per year. So heat pump rebates are really intended for those high electricity consumption users and you can see in this case that the consumption is on the lower end because she is in a condo and it’s a smaller space,” said Scott.

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Harold lives in a 1,500-square-foot condo and says BC Hydro’s reasoning is unfair, especially when you consider the past two summers in B.C. left many condo dwellers sweltering in the heat.

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“I think that’s terrible that we have to suffer,” said Harold. “I don’t think their reasoning is good because they are treating us separate from a homeowner and we are homeowners.”

In addition, Harold says she takes issue with BC Hydro’s televised ads which do not mention which properties are excluded and which ones are not from the rebate program. “I don’t think they’re quite honest,” she added.

“We appreciate maybe there’s a gap there. Certainly, on our website it’s very clear that condo and apartment users are not eligible for this rebate,” said Scott.

Scott also says BC Hydro recognizes more and more condo owners are interested in heat pumps and says the crown corporation is in the midst of a research study looking into the issue.

“We know more and more British Columbians are looking for solutions to cool their homes and that’s exactly why we are doing this research study right now. We want to find options that work for everybody and that’s absolutely what we are committed to.”

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