It’s a stereotype, but it’s true — Canada’s winters are cold. And many of us stay toasty by burning fossil fuels such as natural gas in our furnaces or the boilers that feed our radiators.
In an effort to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and meet targets to reduce global warming, the U.K. has proposed banning fossil fuel-based heating in new homes by 2025. Cities in the states of California, Washington and Massachusetts are also trying to phase out natural gas.
If your home is hooked up to a district heating system, where a utility supplies heat directly, you may be able to tap into a variety of greener energy sources.
But if your home relies on its own individual heating system, as most do, what are the alternatives to fossil fuels and will they work in the colder parts of this country?
Here’s a closer look.
How much does heating buildings contribute to CO2 emissions?
About 45 per cent of Canada’s emissions come from burning fossil fuels to make energy, including heat and electricity — quite a bit more than transportation (28 per cent), the Prairie Climate Centre reports. Of that, about half is from houses, shops, schools and other private and public buildings. The other half is from industry.
Nearly 70 per cent of the energy used in the residential sector comes from fossil fuels, a 2014 study estimated. Forced air furnaces and hot water or steam boilers with radiators, which most often burn fossil fuels such as natural gas, make up a majority of the primary heating systems in Canada, Statistics Canada reports.
How important is it to decarbonize heating?
“Very important,” said Fin MacDonald, program manager of the Zero Carbon Building program at the Canada Green Building Council, a non-profit that advocates for and certifies green buildings. In provinces such as B.C., Ontario and Quebec whose power grids don’t produce a lot of emissions, fossil fuel combustion from buildings represents the biggest source of carbon dioxide, he said.
That’s certainly the case in Vancouver, where more than half the greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, said Brady Faught, green buildings engineer with the city.
While people may be concerned about a car idling for 10 minutes, Faught says “your house is basically idling all day.”
And it’s not just the gas it’s burning that’s the problem. Natural gas or methane — a greenhouse gas that traps heat far more effectively than carbon dioxide, causing much more global warming per molecule — also leaks from the entire distribution system used to deliver gas to people’s homes and furnaces, Faught said.
How can emissions from home heating be reduced or eliminated?
Buildings heated with fossil fuels can cut some of their emissions by reducing the need for heating through things like better insulation and reusing “waste” heat.
But in order to make a big difference, the green building industry is looking to electrify heating.
“The only fuel that we can truly make 100 per cent carbon neutral is electricity,” MacDonald said.
That’s why the City of Vancouver is trying to come up with regulations and incentives for homeowners to electrify their home heating.
“The ultimate goal is zero emissions,” said Faught, whose job is to develop policies to encourage green retrofits for single-family homes in Vancouver.
In provinces with an electrical grid based mostly on hydro, nuclear or other non-fossil fuel energy sources, such as Ontario, Quebec and B.C., replacing a gas-burning furnace with an electrical heating system can nearly eliminate a home’s emissions.
In some provinces, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, power is largely generated by burning fossil fuels. For now, homeowners who want to cut heating emissions need to go beyond electrification and also install green power generation, such as solar panels.
What are some of the options for heating your home electrically?
Baseboard heaters are the most common option in use across Canada. They’re powered by electrical resistance heating, just like your toaster and oven. Electric forced air furnaces, electric convection heaters and electric radiant floors also use electrical resistance heating.
Heat pumps are far more efficient, because they simply move heat into your home, rather than generating heat. There are two kinds:
Air source heat pumps, which draw heat from the air. (Yes, it can work even when it is very cold outside, just as your freezer can use its heat pump to cool itself to -18 C in a 20 C kitchen.)
Ground source heat pumps, which draw heat from the ground and are sometimes referred to as geoexchange or geothermal heat pumps. However, MacDonald says the industry is trying to move away from calling it geothermal, as it gets confused with geothermal power generation.
What are the pros and cons of baseboard heaters and other electrical resistance heaters?
Baseboard heaters are popular because they’re very cheap and easy to install.
However, those and other kinds of electrical resistance heaters are very inefficient.
“They’re like just having a toaster running in your house all day … resulting in high electric bills,” said Faught.
For those reasons, baseboard heaters are often popular in rental units where landlords install them and tenants pay the cost of electricity.
That said, it’s possible to bring the cost down in a small home by making the building more airtight and better insulated.
David Turnbull, a former homebuilder and current manager of Enerspec Energy Consulting, said his company built a townhome complex in Edmonton where units were relatively small and so well-insulated that “you could almost heat the house with two hair dryers.” In that case, baseboard heating made financial sense.
When does installing a heat pump make sense?
Heat pumps are way more efficient than electrical resistance heating. Both MacDonald and Faught say it’s possible to get 300 per cent efficiency from a heat pump — that is, you can get three kilowatts of heat for every kilowatt of electricity you put in. They’re especially efficient in spring and fall.
However, MacDonald says heat pumps tend to produce a lower temperature heat than burning fossil fuels, and therefore don’t heat a building as quickly.
That means a building needs to be airtight and well insulated to keep the heat from escaping and reduce the “heating load” before you should consider this as an option — and even more so the further north you go.
Faught says air source heat pumps can heat an airtight, well-insulated home to a comfortable temperature until it gets to about -10 C outside. In places with colder winters than that, supplementing with baseboard heaters may be necessary.
One big advantage of heat pumps is that they don’t just heat homes, the can also cool them.
In fact, air conditioners are technically heat pumps. The difference with the heat pumps capable of heating homes is they can run in reverse.
What’s the difference between air source and ground source heat pumps?
Air source heat pumps are cheaper and easier to install, but less efficient and more expensive to run. That’s because the ground temperature tends to remain stable all year round — containing more heat in the winter and more “coolness” in the summer than the air.
However, ground source heat pumps tend to be a lot more expensive — and require more space — to install because it’s necessary to dig deep to access stable underground temperatures.
That can be particularly costly in places where the ground is bedrock, said Turnbull. It’s more economical if you’re building on clay or sand, he said, and especially if you’re digging anyway — for a parkade, for example.
What about solar?
Solar power is useful for generating green energy to run devices like heat pumps in provinces with a fossil fuel-based electricity grid.
However, there’s also solar thermal energy, where heat is collected directly rather than by generating electricity.
MacDonald said that tends to be more expensive than other options and requires lots of space for the solar panels. Because most of the heat is collected in summer, it also needs to be stored somewhere.
“If you have a pool, perfect,” he said. If you have a ground source heat pump, in theory you can also store the heat in its underground heat exchange loop.
Turnbull and Faught both think solar technology is not quite ready for heating individual homes in Canada (although solar thermal heating with storage has been successfully tested for district heating in Okotoks, Alta.).
What are governments doing about this?
In Canada, the federal government is holding public consultations on proposed changes to the National Building Code and its National Energy Code for Buildings. Some jurisdictions such as Vancouver are also coming up with their own regulations and incentives to encourage electrification, especially in new homes.
The city’s climate emergency response report proposes that by 2025, all new and replacement heating and hot water systems should be zero emissions.
“Having a fully electric house without a gas line is the direction we want to go,” Faught said.
Turnbull says governments need to plan to phase out fossil fuels in home heating.
“It’s an inevitability that we are going to get off them.”
No winning ticket sold in Saturday's $5M Lotto 649 draw – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $5 million jackpot in Saturday night’s Lotto 649 draw.
However, the guaranteed $1 million prize was claimed by a ticket holder in Quebec.
The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Sept. 23 will be approximately $6 million.
Online thieves scam Toronto couple out of more than $1,000 in PC Optimum points hack – CBC.ca
When Chris Eggers and his wife signed up for an in-store text message promotion at a Toronto Shoppers Drug Mart, they thought they’d collect extra PC Optimum points.
Instead, Eggers alleges, hackers stole them all.
“Every week, [PC Optimum] would text me, ‘See if you’re a winner and click on the link!'” he explained.
“One of the links I clicked, and I still have the text, asked me to enter my PC optimum information.”
So, Eggers, 37, entered the couple’s log-in details.
“I believe it is at that point that my identity was compromised,” he told CBC Toronto.
All the text messages came from the same number. But only one, he says, asked him to enter his account information.
A few days later, the couple was alerted that all their points had been cashed in.
“My wife got emails saying that our PC Optimum points were being redeemed at Vaughan Mills Mall, 600,000 of them,” Eggers explained.
“And so, of course, we panic, you know, try to open the app and change everything, but at that point it was all gone.”
Hackers redeemed more than $1,100 worth of points
Emails the couple supplied to CBC Toronto show a total of $1,149.99 worth of merchandise was redeemed at the Shoppers Drug Mart located in the Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre in Vaughan, Ont. north of Toronto.
Eggers notified Loblaw Companies Ltd., the corporation that operates the PC Optimum program, and has since filed a report with York Regional Police.
Scammers have targeted the reward system before.
Two years ago, CBC News interviewed eight people across Canada who said they’d each had more than 100,000 points stolen from their accounts after Loblaw merged its two rewards programs — PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum — to form PC Optimum on Feb. 1, 2018.
The reported thefts are just one more problem plaguing Loblaw, which was already dealing with technical glitches involving PC Optimum, and fallout from a bread price-fixing scandal, including the related controversy over asking some people to send their ID to collect a $25 gift card as compensation for the overpriced bread.
No connection to text promotion, Loblaw says
When the company replied to Eggers days later, he was told his email had been compromised and there was no connection to the in-store text promotion.
That’s something Eggers still has trouble accepting.
“I don’t believe that because if somebody was going to compromise my email, then they would have gone after my banking,” he said.
“It’s quite a leap to think that when you get into somebody’s email that they have a Shoppers Optimum and that’s … the cherry they want to pick.”
In a statement to CBC News, Loblaw says the company reviewed screen shots of Eggers’s contest text messages and related links and has “not found any site/page that asked for PC Optimum account information.”
“The links provided simply show a promotional code,” the statement reads
Loblaw apologizes for ‘the inconvenience this has caused’
However, the retailer does acknowledge recent “smishing campaigns” — text messages asking for information, claiming to be from PC Optimum in recent months.
“We’re still reviewing to see if that could be the case in this instance,” the company said, adding their investigation is ongoing.
“We are committed to understanding the scenario and how we can best help our customers moving forward.”
Loblaws says representatives have worked with Eggers and his wife to restore their points and secure their account.
The company also says it apologizes for “the inconvenience this has caused [for the couple] and the delay in resolving it.”
Eggers says he’s happy to have their points back but worries others could have also been hacked.
Video: Woman refuses to wear mask, asked to leave Kelowna LUSH – News 1130
KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) — A tense exchange filmed at a Kelowna mall shows a woman arguing with staff at a LUSH Cosmetics store after they told her she had to leave because she wasn’t wearing a mask.
The confrontation in Orchard Park Shopping Centre was filmed and posted to social media by the woman and comes at a time when B.C.’s COVID-19 numbers are still high.
The woman refused to wear a mask when she entered the store, then said staff and security were breaching her human rights by not allowing her to browse.
My daughter got #Karen’d yesterday! A wild Trump-loving-anti-masker came into @lushcosmetics at #OrchardPark mall in #Kelowna , #BritishColumbia #Canada. Let’s make her go viral!! Twitter do your thing! #KarensGoneWild #antimasker pic.twitter.com/YZt2kFAme7
— Jill Cowie (@JillCowie2) September 19, 2020
The woman can be heard in the video speaking to a masked security guard.
“Explain to me how my human rights, with my medical condition, I cannot walk through a store when it’s totally fine for me to walk through a store.”
When asked to provide a medical note, the woman said she didn’t need to and instead said she could show her “puffer,” before saying that was none of the security guard’s business.
While there isn’t a provincial mandate on masks, they are encouraged to slow the spread of COVID-19.
But it is a policy for the store and has been since mid-July.
A spokesperson for LUSH tells NEWS 1130 they support how the staff handled the situation calmly and compassionately, and remain committed to ensuring the policy is followed.
“The health and safety of our staff and community remains top priority as we continue to navigate these challenging times together.”
The camera later pans over slightly to show three staff members, also wearing masks, and the woman accuses them of harassment.
“All I’m doing is looking in LUSH,” she says.
Staff suggest the woman instead shop online, but she refuses, saying “I want to browse here in the store.”
After multiple requests, the security guard says they might have to call the police if the woman doesn’t leave. He reminds her it is private property and she had been told to go.
Once the woman is given the number for the head office, she turns to leave.
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