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Central Saanich couple looks to pump up comfort, save money through new program

District offering interest-free loan for switching to heat pump from oil furnaces
Wayne and Lynn Gill stand by their oil tank that will soon make their way for a heat pump. The family is among the first 19 homeowners in Central Saanich participating in a program that offers interest-free support to eligible homeowners for switching out their oil heating systems. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Environmental and economic reasons convinced a Central Saanich couple to participate in a program that allows eligible homeowners to cut their heating bills by paying for air-source heat pumps through their property taxes.

“The heat dome (in 2021) did us in,” says Lynn Gill.

“That was ridiculous,” added her husband, Wayne.

The Gills are among the first 19 families in Central Saanich to participate in the program. It provides zero-interest financing of up to $12,000 to qualifying homeowners who want to upgrade from oil heating systems to electric air-source heat pumps. Following installation, the municipality directly pays program-approved contractors, while homeowners repay the district in even payments over 10 years on their property tax bill with an annual maximum of $1,200.

Central Saanich identified the installation of more air-source heat pumps in local homes as a key action in its climate leadership plan. While only 300 homes use oil for heating, those systems account for 16 per cent of residential building emissions and two per cent of total community emissions. The municipality aims to see all of those fossil fuel-burning systems replaced by 2030.

“I think it’s a great program for the environment, gets rid of oil as well,” Wayne Gill said.

RELATED: Central Saanich pumps up efforts to fight climate change with heat conversion program

He didn’t hesitate to take Central Saanich up on its offer and encouraged others to follow suit. He also pointed out various forms of financial assistance are available through municipalities, as well as senior spheres of governments.

The Gills have already applied for federal assistance to switch over and plan to apply for provincial money as well. “It helps, because it is a big bill to do this,” Wayne said. “It’s probably about $20,000, all in all.”

In their case, an upgrade to the electrical panel may be required for the replacement, but the necessary ductwork is already in place for the heat pump to tie into. “If we didn’t have the ductwork, it might be different story.”

Overall, if a homeowner is in a position to make the switch, he said, “they’d be crazy not to.”

Under their tentative plan, the Gills hope to have the heat pump installed by May, just in time for the expected rise in temperatures.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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