Pilot program successes

We’re investing in pilot programs to test new technology that can help our customers manage their energy use, and in many cases, reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We also test technology that can support the use of energy in new ways so we’re making more efficient use of our energy systems and infrastructure. Our goal: to help create a more energy-efficient, lower-carbon energy future for B.C.

How we evaluate the success of a pilot program

We evaluate technology in real-world conditions with eligible customers who choose to participate in exchange for financial incentives—as well as the opportunity to take advantage of innovative technologies that often have the potential to reduce their energy usage, GHG emissions and costs.

In most cases we’re determining the average energy savings, as well as factors like reliability and ease of use. We also want to know how our customers feel about the technology they’ve tested, and if they’d recommend it to others. When a pilot program is successful, we create an ongoing program that all eligible customers can participate in. 

Successful pilot programs

Learn about the residential and commercial pilot programs that were successfully turned into permanent programs. 

Gas heat pumps use energy to capture heat from the ambient outdoor air as an additional energy source and then transfer it indoors to provide space heating, hot water and/or ventilation.

Pilot summary: In 2019 - 2020, we had Robur gas absorption heat pumps installed in participating customers’ commercial buildings to evaluate their efficiency for space and water heating.

Participant details: 14 commercial customers in the Lower Mainland participated.


  • HVAC contractors found the installation to be similar to that of a boiler and noted minimal issues with the technology throughout the monitoring and evaluation period.
  • In January 2020, the gas absorption heat pumps performed at over 100 per cent efficiency in -8 °C weather, exceeding expectations.
  • The gas absorption heat pumps achieved gas usage savings of up to 35 per cent compared to standard efficiency gas boilers.

Permanent program: The gas absorption heat pump rebate program launched in June 2022.

Our electricity customers use the most power between the hours of 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., and throughout the coldest and hottest days of the year. Smart technology is being used in countries around the world to alleviate this ‘peak’ demand on the electricity system.

Pilot summary: From January 2022 until March 2023, we worked with residential electricity customers to connect their thermostats, electric vehicle chargers, hot water tanks and pool pumps to software which we could use (with their permission) to slightly adjust energy usage during peak times. Unlike most of our pilots, this program is not designed to conserve energy but rather, shift customers’ energy use to times of day when energy is not in such high demand.

Participant details: More than 250 residential electricity customers in the Kelowna area participated.


  • Summer thermostat events showed the largest savings at 0.9 kW per customer. It was a warm winter, so we ran fewer winter events than expected; however, we received promising results from those events.
  • We were able to learn useful data about customers’ electric vehicle charging behaviour.
  • Participants who completed the pilot program didn’t find the technology intrusive and didn’t feel their comfort was negatively affected.

Permanent program: We launched the Power Hours Rewards Program at the end of 2023.

A smart thermostat works like a programmable thermostat where you can schedule it to change the temperature at different times of day. However, a smart thermostat can also learn your habits or detect when you're home and automatically change the temperature. Additionally, you can control a smart thermostat from anywhere using Wi-Fi.

Pilot summary: In 2019, we assessed the energy savings and customer acceptance of this smart technology.

Participants: More than 200 residential gas and electricity customers in Kelowna participated.


  • After installing smart thermostats, participants using gas heating saved an average of 2.6 GJ of gas and participants using electric heating saved 488 kWh of electricity per household over the study period (December 2017 to February 2019).
  • Customer satisfaction with smart thermostats was high, with 95 per cent of participants saying they’d recommend them to others.

Permanent program: We’ve teamed up with participating retailers in B.C. to offer up to $100 instant rebates on select connected thermostats.

Using a vortex mechanical de-aerator for indoor ice rink resurfacing helps remove micro air bubbles and increase heat transfer. This allows for lower water temperatures, which saves energy and creates a harder, smoother ice surface requiring less maintenance.

Pilot summary: Beginning in 2014, we had REALice vortex mechanical de-aerators installed for rinks in arenas and recreation centres to evaluate their potential energy and cost savings, as well as ease of use.

Participant details: 10 rinks in the Lower Mainland participated.


  • The vortex mechanical de-aerators reduced the arenas’ gas use by about 79 per cent, while their electricity savings were reduced by about 28 per cent, compared with the traditional rink resurfacing method which uses hot water.
  • Our customers reported the investment in this technology pays for itself within two to three years. 90 per cent of the pilot participants told us they’d continue using it.
  • The technology reduced draw on rink compressors and boilers, and reduced water waste.
  • The ice was of a higher quality, with customers noting there were no cracks, unlike with the traditional resurfacing process.

Permanent program: The rink de-aerator rebate program launched in 2019.

Unlike systems that recirculate hot water throughout a building 24-7, on-demand recirculation controls operate the recirculation pump and hot water on a schedule. This helps save energy, as gas is not being constantly used to operate the boiler and there is less heat loss from continuous flow through the piping.

Pilot summary: In 2018 we studied the energy savings and customer acceptance of on-demand recirculation controls for central domestic hot water systems.

Participant details: 19 multi-family residential buildings in the Lower Mainland participated.


  • Hot water systems used up to 22 per cent less gas when using the on-demand recirculation controls.
  • Overall, building managers reported feeling satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the installation and performance of the technology.

Permanent program: We now have rebates on this technology, as well as other HVAC controls.

Sign up to learn more

If you want to participate in a future pilot programs, sign up here to get on our mailing list so you can hear about upcoming pilots you may be eligible for. If chosen to participate, you could receive financial incentives, and help test innovative technologies.