Frequently Asked Questions


Which heat pumps are eligible for incentives?
What is a heat pump and why should I switch to one?
What type of heat pump do I want – a central or a mini-split?
Are there any drawbacks to having a heat pump?
What type of maintenance does a heat pump require?
How should I choose a contractor, and what is the accredited installer incentive?
Why do I need to register for the Oil to Heat Pump program?
Why do I need to remove my oil tank, and how can I do it properly?
What is an EnerGuide home evaluation?
Why is an EnerGuide home evaluation required to access the incentive?
What is the $150 Evaluation Rebate and how do I access it?
What is the Home Renovation Rebate Offer program and how do I access it?
Can I extend my application deadline?
Why is the Province of BC funding this initiative?
What are the CRD, District of Saanich and City of Victoria Top Up Incentives?
I have more questions – how do I get answers?

Which heat pumps are eligible for incentives?

Not all heat pumps are eligible for incentives. Central heat pumps must be all-electric (e.g. have an electric air handler rather than a gas or oil backup system). Read the Terms and Conditions to find out which heat pumps qualify for incentives. Heat pumps are either found on the AHRI Central Systems database or the AHRI Ductless System database. Some systems listed on the Ductless Systems database may use ducting, but are still only eligible for the ductless system incentive, as the incentive level is determined based on the AHRI database each system is found in. If you have concerns about the database in which your system is found, please contact the manufacturer of that system.

What is a heat pump and why should I switch to one?

Heat pumps are a very efficient way to heat and cool your home because they use only a small amount of electricity to move a large amount of heat. In the winter, they take the heat from outside air that is available even on colder days and move it into your home. In the summer they can do the reverse, removing the heat from your home to provide air conditioning. For a detailed background on heat pump technology, visit Natural Resources Canada’s website.

Upgrading from an oil heating system to a heat pump brings economic and environmental benefits.

Save Money on Heating Bills

  • A typical heat pump will save you $1,300 to $2,700 on your heating bills (or about 75% on your
    heating costs) every year when you switch from an oil heating system.
  • On average, a new heat pump pays for itself very quickly through energy savings, and over the life of the system your investment really pays off – typically a return on investment of 20 – 39%.

Avoid Costly and Damaging Oil Spills

Oil spills can be very costly and environmentally damaging. Oil can contaminate soil and water, harm or kill fish, pets, and other animals, and pollute air in the neighbourhood. Even a very small spill can be quite damaging. Cleanup costs typically range from $65,000 to $118,000, are the responsibility of the homeowner, and are not typically covered by home insurance. Read this spill response and maintenance factsheet for more information.

Shrink your Carbon Footprint

If you want to reduce your home’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, switching from oil to a heat pump is likely the upgrade that will shrink your climate impact the most. The average reduction for homes on Vancouver Island that upgrade from an oil heating system to an air source heat pump is between 6.8 to 7.99 tonnes of GHG emissions per year throughout the heat pump’s lifetime, which is better than not driving your car at all for 15 years! For larger homes, or homes with larger heating loads, the greenhouse gas reductions are even better.

Enjoy Great Home Comfort and Improved Safety

Not only do heat pumps provide comfortable heating and cooling all year round, they also:

  • Eliminate the Risk of Combustion Spillage: Switching from oil heating to an all-electric air source heat pump system removes the potential for combustion spillage from your oil heating system. Combustion spillage is the unwanted flow of combustion gases, including potentially harmful carbon monoxide, into your home.
  • Improve Indoor Air Quality: Air purifying filters, which can be included with a new heat pump system, capture dust, pollen, germs, mildew, and odor-causing gases, so allergy sufferers in your family can breathe easy.

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What type of heat pump do I want – a central or a mini-split?

Central heat pumps use your existing ducting to move conditioned air through your home. Mini-split (ductless) heat pumps use a small refrigerant line to connect the outdoor unit to indoor units that are typically mounted on your wall. Talk to your heat pump installer about the best type of heat pump for your home. Some considerations include:

  • Outdoor temperature: Some heat pumps perform better than others at colder winter temperatures. Be sure to choose a system that matches your climate.
  • State of your ducts: The ducts for your oil heating system may or may not be suitable for a heat pump due to size or leakiness.
  • Zonal heat: If you’d prefer to have different temperatures in different parts of your home (for example, in a separate suite), a ductless heat pump is a good option, as each indoor head can be set at different temperatures.
  • Size and layout of your home: While ductless heat pumps can be used in all sized homes, they are ideal in smaller homes or homes with an open plan layout.
  • Interest in removing ducts: Many homeowners are interested in removing their ducting to provide additional head space (e.g. for rec rooms or suites). Mini-split heat pumps allow for the removal of all heating system ducting.

Costs for an oil to heat pump upgrade can vary based on:

  • Cost of oil tank removal
  • Need for duct adjustments
  • Need for electrical panel upgrade
  • Whether you choose a central or mini-split system
  • For mini-splits, the number of indoor heads required based on the size and layout of your home

Typical costs for central heat pump systems can range between $10,000 and $15,000.*

Typical costs for double head mini-split systems can range between $6000 and $8,000. *

*Based on data from Southern Vancouver Island – prices elsewhere in the province may differ.

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Are there any drawbacks to having a heat pump?

Heat pumps are a very efficient, affordable, safe, clean, reliable, and comfortable way to heat your home. That being said, here are some things to keep in mind about heat pumps:

  • Noise: The outdoor unit of a heat pump does make some noise. The amount of noise is variable depending on the make and model of the heat pump and how and where it is installed. For this reason, some local governments have restrictions on the placement of heat pumps. Speak with your installer or your municipal permit office to learn more.
  • Higher electricity bills: Since heat pumps use electricity, replacing your oil heating system with a heat pump will eliminate your oil heating bills but it will result in increased electricity bills. However, given that heat pumps are among the most efficient home heating systems currently available your overall cost savings should be attractive. To keep your electricity bills to a minimum:
    • Ensure you select a contractor who will install the right system for your home and provide a quality installation. Properly sized and installed heat pumps will function more efficiently, saving you money.
    • Follow the manufacturer-recommended guidelines for operating your heat pump system.
    • Consider the additional insulation, air sealing and window home energy improvements recommendations made by your energy advisor to further increase the efficiency of your home and reduce energy bills. Participants that complete the Oil to Heat Pump Incentive Program can apply for the HRR program to access additional rebates for energy saving upgrades.
    • Heat pumps provide optional air conditioning to cool your home in the summer. If you currently use air conditioning, your new heat pump will likely provide more efficient and cost effective cooling. If you do not currently use an air conditioner, and then use the air conditioning feature once you install your new heat pump, you will have higher energy bills than if you did not use the air conditioning option.

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What type of maintenance does a heat pump require?

Both central and mini-split heat pumps require regular maintenance to operate efficiently and have a long service life. A heat pump requires both a yearly inspection, and regular monthly maintenance. While the yearly inspection should be done by a service contractor, homeowners can do typically do regular monthly maintenance themselves.

During regular monthly maintenance, the heat pump’s filters and coils should be examined and cleaned. Cleaning your filters and coils is a great opportunity to check their condition and inspect them for general wear and tear. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when doing maintenance on your heat pump.

Once a year a competent service contractor should inspect your heat pump to check the refrigerant levels and make any electrical or mechanical adjustments.

Maintenance is an essential part of keeping your heat pump operating properly. Dirty filters, coils, or fans can reduce the efficiency of your heat pump and put unnecessary strain on its mechanical systems.

Read these great tips from Natural Resource Canada on ways to maintain your heat pump.

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How should I choose a contractor, and what is the accredited installer incentive?

  • Read these great tips from the CMHC, including getting multiple quotes, and get agreements in writing.
  • Consider checking the installer’s record with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) and choosing an installer with a good rating.
  • Consider asking friends and family for recommendations.
  • Consider hiring an installer who will allow you (the homeowner) to access the $200 Accredited Contractor Incentive – an optional incentive through the Oil to Heat Pump Incentive Program.

For air to air heat pumps, to access the $200 Accredited Installer Incentive, the installer you choose must have one of the following accreditations:

For air to water heat pumps, to access the $200 Accredited Installer Incentive, the installer you choose must possess the any of the following accreditations:

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Why do I need to register for the Oil to Heat Pump program?

There are a limited number of incentives available. The Program requires registration for a few reasons, including ensuring that the program is not oversubscribed.

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Why do I need to remove my oil tank, and how can I do it properly?

Oil tanks can represent a hazard to the local environment and a significant financial liability for you if they leak or spill. Cleanup costs are the responsibility of the homeowner, and your private home insurance likely does not cover these costs. Check with your local government whether they require you to obtain a permit for removing your oil tank. Whether or not a permit is required, in order to access the program incentives you must:

Your private house insurance provider may also require oil tank removal documentation, which may be different than what the Oil to Heat Pump Program requires. Please check directly with your insurance company before removing your oil tank. Similarly, if removal of an oil tank is a condition of sale for your home, please also ensure you have adequate documentation for those purposes, which may be different than the documentation requirements for this incentive program.
 

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What is an EnerGuide home evaluation?

An EnerGuide home evaluation is a service to provide you with independent, expert, and prioritized advice on improving the energy efficiency and comfort of your home. If you successfully complete the Oil to Heat Pump program, an energy evaluation also provides you with access to incentives through the Home Renovation Rebate (HRR) program when you complete other qualifying energy saving upgrades. Prices may vary by Service Organization. Visit Natural Resources Canada to learn more about energy evaluations.

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Why is an EnerGuide home evaluation required to access the incentive?

The Oil to Heat Pump Program requires energy evaluations because:

  • The program is designed to provide incentives for homeowners to replace their oil heating system with a heat pump and to encourage homeowners to make additional energy improvements to their homes. An energy evaluation takes the guesswork out of which additional home energy improvements would work best for your home and save you the most on utility bills.
  • The post-retrofit energy evaluation functions as a third party verification to ensure that the Province of BC is paying incentives for a program-eligible heat pump.
  • The energy evaluation provides you with an EnerGuide rating and label which can be an important selling point to prospective buyers. It shows the home’s energy use has been improved, which in turn reduces the utility costs for any future occupants.
  • The Oil to Heat Pump Program is part of the Province of BC’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the residential sector. The energy evaluation includes an energy modelling process that measures the greenhouse gas emission reductions from each home, allowing the Province to track progress towards greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

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What is the $150 Evaluation Rebate and how do I access it?

An additional $150 off your EnerGuide home evaluation funded by the Province of BC is available through the Home Renovation Rebate (HRR) Program. To access it, at your post-retrofit EnerGuide evaluation:

  1. Complete and submit the HRR Application form (even if you have no upgrades to claim on the form – do not claim the heat pump incentive from HRR). A promo code is not required.
  2. Ask your energy advisor to complete and submit the HRR Energy Advisor supported upgrades form.

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What is the Home Renovation Rebate Program program and how do I access it?

The Home Renovation Rebate (HRR) Program is managed by BC Hydro and FortisBC and provides rebates for a variety of energy saving upgrades. When you receive your rebate cheque from the Oil to Heat Pump Incentive Program, you will also be provided with a “promo code” that will allow you to access rebates from HRR for other energy saving upgrades. A promo code lets you:

  • Access HRR rebates (for attic, wall, and basement/crawlspace insulation).
  • Access HRR advisor supported rebates, including draftproofing rebates of up to $500 and Bonus Offer of $750 (or more in select communities) for doing three or more qualifying upgrades. (Requires pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluations – see BC Hydro for details).
  • Use the oil to heat pump upgrade as one of three HRR eligible Bonus Offer measures
  • Have up to 12 months from the time of your insulation upgrades to submit an HRR Rebate Application form (rather than the usual 6 months from the time of the install).

If you’re interested in accessing the Home Renovation Rebates, ask your energy advisor for details.

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Can I extend my application deadline?

We understand that sometimes upgrades may take longer than 6 months. Currently, there is a temporary option to extend your application deadline date by an additional 6 months. Extensions may not always be available.

To request a deadline extension you must notify us before your current application deadline. You can contact us to request a deadline extension by email at info@oiltoheatpump.ca or by phone at 1.877.545.6247. After your extension request has been processed you will receive confirmation of your extended deadline. Currently only 1 deadline extension is granted for each registration.

If your application deadline passes without an extension being granted, your incentive will be re-assigned. You can re-register for the program if sufficient funds are still available.

All terms and conditions apply to deadline extensions.

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Why is the Province of BC funding this initiative?

The Oil to Heat Pump Program is an initiative of the Province of British Columbia to accelerate the adoption of heat pumps as a means of replacing less efficient oil heating systems in order to achieve greenhouse gas reductions, reduce incidents of oil tank leaks, and improve home energy efficiency in BC.

The Oil to Heat Pump Incentive Program is funded by the Ministry of Energy and Mines’ Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund, designed to support the B.C. government’s energy, economic, environmental, and greenhouse gas reduction priorities and advance B.C.’s clean energy sector.

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What are the CRD, District of Saanich and City of Victoria Top Up Incentives?

Residents in the Capital Region can access an extra $150 when they participate in the Oil to Heat Pump Incentive Program. District of Saanich and City of Victoria residents can access a further $150 for a total of $300 in extra incentives. More info.

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I have more questions – how do I get answers?

The Program Terms and Conditions may have the answer. If not, contact the Oil to Heat Pump Incentive Program at 1.877.545.6247 or info@oiltoheatpump.ca.

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