Enbridge’s marketing materials claim heating with gas is cheapest, though electric heat pumps would save a typical homeowner over $10,000 by comparison.
Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Huron-Wendat – Environmental Defence, along with Ontario Clean Air Alliance, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and a number of impacted residents have filed a complaint to the Competition Bureau over Enbridge Gas’ deceptive marketing encouraging homeowners to connect to its “natural” gas system. The organizations assert the company is falsely claiming that gas is the most cost-effective way to heat homes. In reality, a typical customer in a gas expansion area could spend over $10,000 more if they choose to use gas instead of installing a high-efficiency electric heat pump (over the lifetime of the equipment).
“Enbridge’s dishonest marketing is duping people into signing up for its gas service, falsely claiming it’s cheaper than heating with electricity which is just not true.” said Keith Brooks, program director at Environmental Defence. “Heat pumps have come a long way in recent years and they are now the most affordable way to heat a home, and are far superior from an environmental perspective. Enbridge needs to stop lying to people and pushing its fossil gas agenda on communities.”
The deceptive marketing is targeted at customers in communities that Enbridge has recently connected to its gas pipeline network and ones it plans to connect in the near future. The misrepresentations are being made in materials sent by mail, delivered at the doorstep, and posted at community events.
The organizations also take issue with Enbridge’s deceptive use of the terms “low carbon” and “clean energy” when describing natural gas. “Natural gas”, also known as methane gas or fracked fossil gas, is a potent greenhouse gas that pollutes the environment and causes climate change when it is burned and when it escapes into the atmosphere during extraction, production, and transportation. Currently, 19 per cent of Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to heating with gas.
“I am outraged by Enbridge’s campaign filled with misleading information about the cost and environmental impact of its polluting product. Its proposed new pipeline in Selwyn Township will deliver harmful fossil gas to our residents who will be locked in to higher prices for decades. If this pipeline is built, our community will find it harder to achieve the greenhouse gas reductions we committed to in our 2016 Climate Change Action Plan,” said Guy Hanchet, a resident of Selwyn, Ontario. “We deserve better from a company that claims to be leading the transition towards a net-zero future but whose actions are locking us into a planet that will be a disaster for our grandchildren.”
The longer Enbridge is allowed to advertise these false claims, the more homeowners will be stuck heating their homes with gas instead of selecting a more affordable option like an electric heat pump. As this continues, unnecessarily high energy costs and carbon pollution can be effectively locked in for a decade or more to the detriment of consumers and the climate.
“I cannot believe Enbridge has been allowed to lie for so long about the cost of its gas compared to heat pumps. We have a heat pump installed in our home and know it saves us money,” said Lesley Hastie, a resident of Huntsville, Ontario. “I feel especially sorry for renters who have no choice but to pay more for gas heating and cooling because their landlords chose to connect to gas. It’s unfair that Enbridge’s infrastructure expansion costs are being imposed on customers, and it’s unacceptable that the municipality is left with increased greenhouse gas emissions. Enbridge should be made to stop deliberately misleading the public.”
For a long time, fossil gas was the cheapest way to heat homes. However, electric heat pumps designed for cold climates are now much cheaper for consumers. This is true both for the initial upfront equipment costs and for the annual energy costs. Upfront equipment costs often beat gas as heat pumps provide both heating and cooling in one unit and the price tag can be further reduced using federal rebate programs. Annual energy costs are also lower as heat pumps are approximately three times more efficient than gas furnaces (or five times for ground-source heat pumps, also known as geothermal).
“Heat pumps are an amazing technology that allow people to get their homes off of fossil fuels, and save money while doing so,” said Jack Gibbons, chair of Ontario Clean Air Alliance. “People need to know that if they are about to install new heating and cooling equipment, they should go with a heat pump. But Enbridge is misleading these people, and trying to lock in more Ontarians to gas. It’s shameful and should be brought to a stop.”
ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.
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For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
Carolyn Townend, Environmental Defence, email@example.com