In an attempt to expand its “natural” gas infrastructure across Ontario, Enbridge Gas is telling residents that gas is the cheapest way to heat their homes. It’s not.
So we’re calling them out.
Today, we filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau over Enbridge Gas’ deceptive marketing.
The company is falsely claiming that “natural” gas, better described as fossil gas, is the most cost-effective way for people to heat their homes, when in reality electric heat pumps are a significantly cheaper option. The deceptive marketing is directed to customers in communities that Enbridge has recently connected to its gas pipeline network or is planning to connect in the near future.
Natural Gas vs Electric
For a long time, fossil gas was the cheapest way to heat buildings. It’s the reason why so many homes are hooked up to the “natural” gas system. But now, electric heat pumps are a much cheaper option.
Due to their high efficiency – three to five times higher than gas – annual energy costs for heat pumps are much lower. Upfront equipment costs can also be lower because heat pumps provide both heating and cooling in one unit and they qualify for a number of government rebate programs.
Despite what Enbridge’s marketing materials are saying, a typical resident recently connected to Enbridge’s fossil gas system could save over $10,000 if they install an electric heat pump (over the lifetime of the equipment) rather than connecting to fossil gas.
What’s more, switching to heat pumps would reduce a home’s carbon emissions for space heating, cooling, and water heating significantly.
But Enbridge Gas does not want you to know that.
What is “Natural” gas, really?
Don’t let the oil and gas industry’s branding of fossil fuel as “natural” gas fool you into thinking it’s clean and green. Fossil gas is a potent greenhouse gas that pollutes the air and causes climate change.
Heating our homes and businesses with fossil gas is responsible for 19 per cent of Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s clear that we need to transition to electric heating if we are to have a chance at meeting our emissions reductions targets.
But Enbridge is making this very difficult.
What does Enbridge Gas have at stake?
Enbridge Gas owns nearly all of the fossil gas distribution pipelines in Ontario. And it serves over 99.7% of all gas customers in the province. So it has a lot to lose, and gain:
- As a for-profit company, it has a clear profit motive to encourage Ontarians to switch to gas and stay with gas for their homes and businesses.
- It has a strong financial interest in gaining and keeping customers because they are the ones that pay for its existing and new pipelines. Those gas distribution charges on your monthly bill? They pay for Enbridge pipelines!
- A big threat to Enbridge’s expansion plans is that customers using oil heating decide to switch to electric heat pumps instead of gas.
No wonder Enbridge is advertising so aggressively.
Enbridge Gas’ false advertising
Enbridge marketing materials state that customers will save money by switching to gas. Their advertising says “When compared to using electricity, propane or oil, switching to natural gas could save you up to 54%* per year on home and water heating costs.” But this is blatantly false. Switching to an electric heat pump would be significantly less expensive.
Enbridge’s marketing materials also use deceptive wording about the impact of fossil gas, describing it as “low carbon” and “clean energy.” They leave the general impression that switching to gas is environmentally conscious, which is not true. Switching from propane or oil to gas may result in lower carbon emissions. But switching from electricity to gas will result in higher carbon emissions. And heating with heat pumps results in the lowest carbon emissions.
What needs to happen
The Competition Bureau needs to stop Enbridge from its false advertising.
With each week that passes, more customers sign up to convert their heating to gas instead of purchasing a high-efficiency electric heat pump. Each time this happens, unnecessarily high energy costs and carbon pollution are effectively locked in for a decade or more to the detriment of consumers and the climate.
You can add your voice by sharing your anger on twitter.
And if you’re curious about how to make the switch to an electric heat pump, check out our website for more information on the various Federal rebates, loans, and programs that can help you.
For now, let’s make sure Enbridge is forced to stop lying to people.