Pilot program success stories

We work with manufacturers of new energy-efficient technologies to test them in real homes and businesses. Here are some recently completed pilots with positive results:  

Completed pilots

Commercial gas absorption heat pumps

We installed and evaluated 14 commercial Robur gas absorption heat pumps for space and water heating applications, the first of its kind in Canada.

Results: 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 fact, in January 2020, the gas absorption heat pumps performed at over 100 per cent efficiency in -8 °C weather, exceeding expectations. Better yet, participants realized energy savings of up to 35 per cent. As a result, we’re launching a commercial rebate program for this technology in mid-2022.

Ice rink resurfacing efficiency pilot

This pilot validated energy saving claims, assessed customer acceptance rates and identified technical issues associated with installing and operating of vortex mechanical de-aerator technology for ice resurfacing in BC arenas. Vortex mechanical de-aerators reduce the need to heat the water applied to the ice during the resurfacing process. 

Results: The study showed savings of 330 gigajoules of natural gas per year, which is equivalent to about 79 per cent gas savings and 28 per cent electricity savings for ice arena customers. The rink de-aerator technology is now eligible for a rebate.

On-demand recirculation controls

This pilot focused on verifying the energy savings and customer acceptance of installing on-demand recirculation controls for central domestic hot water systems in 19 multi-family residential buildings in the Lower Mainland. Unlike systems that recirculate hot water throughout a building 24-7, the on-demand recirculation controls operate the recirculation pump and hot water on a schedule. This helps save energy, as natural gas is not being constantly used to operate the boiler and there is less heat loss from continuous flow through the piping.

Results: The final report showed that buildings installing on-demand recirculation controls realized domestic hot water savings of up to 22 per cent. Overall, building managers reported feeling satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the installation and performance of the technology. FortisBC is currently evaluating the feasibility of offering this measure as a rebate program for FortisBC commercial customers.

Combination space and water heating system pilot

This pilot focused on identifying field-validated energy performance of three different combination system types, technical issues, incremental costs, customer acceptance and effective marketing of home retrofit rebates. 

Results: Customer acceptance was high and savings of 13 to 24 per cent were identified across three different system types. This technology is now eligible for combination heating and hot water system rebates.

Condensing make-up air unit pilot

This pilot focused on validating energy savings claims, assessing customer acceptance, and identifying any technical issues associated with installing and operating condensing gas-fired ventilation units in British Columbia commercial buildings. 

Results: Based on the monitoring and verification results, condensing make-up air units showed natural gas savings of 28 per cent compared to pre-existing make up air units and 17 per cent compared to new make-up air units with 80 per cent efficiency. This technology is now eligible for rebates for commercial natural gas customers

Smart learning thermostats

More than 200 residential natural gas and electricity customers in Kelowna received up to a $100 rebate on purchasing and installing qualifying smart thermostats in their homes and answering questionnaires designed to assess energy savings, gauge customer acceptance and further evaluate the use of smart technology in homes. 

Results: Customer satisfaction with smart thermostats was high, with 95 per cent of participants indicating they’d recommend them to others. After installing smart thermostats, participants saved an average of 2.6 gigajoules of natural gas and 488 kilowatt hours of electricity per household over the study period (December 2017 to February 2019).