Around two-thirds of the energy used by Canadians to heat their homes is supplied by natural gas and propane, posing a unique challenge for households looking to reduce their carbon footprint in an affordable manner.
Air-source heat pumps (ASHPs) have emerged as one climate-friendly solution. They operate in a similar manner as a high-efficiency central air conditioner, but with the ability to run in reverse as well so that they pull heat from the winter air for water and space heating. ASHP’s also use considerably less energy than furnace or baseboard systems.
These pumps are a popular option in warmer-weather climates, but often suffer a reduction in efficiency and effectiveness once the temperature drops below -15 degrees. As a result, current ASHP customers in colder weather environments have had to install back-up heating sources.
This is the problem that Fredericton-based Stash Energy is working to address. The company’s Stash M1 heat pump is able to store energy in a salt-based solution, allowing the homeowner to extract heat during colder periods. The heat pump is programmed to purchase cheaper electricity during off-peak hours, allowing the homeowner to both save money and eliminate the need to maintain any expensive fossil fuel-powered backup system.
The ability to store electricity not only saves the consumer money and reduces their emissions at the same time, but it also allows the utility to do the same by reducing electricity usage during peak periods of the day. This is because utilities often maintain pricy fossil fuel peaker plants that only run when demand reaches a certain threshold. This storage can also be used to more effectively integrate renewable sources of electricity into the grid, evening out the variable nature of solar and wind power.
Stash Energy has been working with a series of utilities to run pilot projects testing their systems in the Maritimes and Ontario. Early results have found customers saving up to 70% on their monthly bills compared to a baseboard heating system, 54% compared to oil heating and 29% compared to traditional heat pumps. The company has received support breaking into international markets, attending the federal government’s Canadian Technology Accelerator in Colorado and accompanying trade missions abroad for emerging Canadian cleantech companies.
With the average Canadian family spending 3% of their total income on electricity, natural gas and heating oil, using Canadian technology to both stash more money away and reduce your environmental footprint seems like too good a deal to pass up.