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CBC Compass | P.E.I. homeowners ditching furnace oil for heat pumps as prices soar

Link to article by Nancy Russel on CBC.ca

Demand for heat pumps on P.E.I. is heating up as Islanders look for alternatives to heat their homes this winter, fueled by the recent spike in furnace oil prices.

“It’s booming, definitely the oil going up has a huge impact,” said Nic Laplante, general manager for Greenfoot Energy on P.E.I. 

“Most times we see our peak season being spring, people reaching out mainly for cooling … and then as fall goes on usually we’ll start to slow down toward winter. This fall has been crazy.”

Laplante said his company has expanded to eight crews, and five sellers, working across the Island. 

He said many customers are looking to get off oil entirely, worried about where prices are going. 

“People, instead of doing just one heat pump at a time, they’re looking at a full heating solution,” Laplante said.

“It cost them much more money last year to heat their house, if they’re on an oil system. People are afraid that they won’t be able to put the fuel in the tank, and then pay for it.”

(Shane Hennessey/CBC )

Laplante said one positive change is the availability of heat pumps, compared to the last couple of years. 

“With COVID, the broken supply chain, everybody knows there was some challenges,” Laplante said. 

“But we’re in good shape for our stock, for pretty much all our brands that we carry.”


The president of PACE-Atlantic, Julian Boyle, said getting off oil and switching to more efficient-energy sources is “a no-brainer.”

His company is the program administrator for the Charlottetown Switch program, based out of Halifax. The program was also offered in Stratford, P.E.I., until the loan money ran out because of high demand.

“The biggest project type that we have is heat pumps, and I think that’s predominantly related to the high use of oil for heating on the Island,” Boyle said. 

“I think everybody is really concerned about the cost of oil. The heating season hasn’t kicked into full gear, and there’s a good chance prices for heating with oil could be three times last winter.”

(Shane Hennessey/CBC )

Boyle said the Switch program works with more than 30 contractors on P.E.I., and currently has about 350 projects underway in Charlottetown, with half of them including heat pumps.

“If you’d asked me this time last year, there was about a four to five year payback without the rebates associated with heat pumps. So it was already a very good energy-efficiency investment,” Boyle said. 

“With this significant increase in oil, some owners could be seeing a payback in less than two years, so this is a big deal to get off the oil and use heat pump technology.”

With this significant increase in oil, some owners could be seeing a payback in less than two years.— Julian Boyle, PACE-Atlantic

Boyle said the Switch program offers zero percent financing, with no money down, though there are administration fees associated with the program.

“It’s like, great, it’s a two-year payback, but I still have to come up with the the upfront capital to to do this,” Boyle said.

“So addressing the barriers of not only, that there’s a quick payback, but how can you actually get this installed with no money down, and on very favourable financing terms.”

(Shane Hennessey/CBC )

Boyle said he expects heat pumps to remain popular.

“I certainly think we’re going to see a continuing huge uptick in in heat pumps over the next three or four months, and I think that’s a general trend that will continue for years in the future,” Boyle said. 

“It’ll be a while before the P.E.I. market is saturated with heat pump technology.”