A pragmatic approach

This industry has long had a love/hate relationship with government rebate programs. When rebates are in place, contractors are busy and everyone's making money. But if there are no rebates, then people tend to hold off upgrading their HVAC systems until the next rebate program comes along. And there will always be another one, or so it seems, and that skews business for the industry.

In 2006 the Conservative government under Stephen Harper shut down the EnerGuide for Homes rebate program. Well, it was a Liberal program after all. But it didn't take long for the Conservatives to launch their own program – the Eco-Energy Retrofit Homes program. It ran for about five years until 2012 when the federal government suddenly, without notice, shut that down, leaving wholesalers and contractors alike up the creek with equipment they couldn't sell and contracts they couldn't fulfil.

If you read the last issue of Plumbing and HVAC, you know that the Ontario geothermal industry is optimistic in part because the Ontario government has announced significant rebates for the installation of heat pumps financed by the province's "carbon market" – 4.3 cents on every litre of gasoline, cap and trade auctions, etc.

But this could all change overnight. There is a provincial election June 7. The Conservatives are way ahead in the polls and have promised to do away with carbon taxes – so no more money for rebates. I suspect a lot of wholesalers and contractors are not investing too heavily until they see what happens with the election. Likely, it's going to be boom to bust again.

The other issue with rebates is the money attracts all kinds of sketchy people and companies into the industry. With the federal programs, we saw companies suddenly spring up, calling themselves things like 'EnerGuide Contracting' and 'Eco-Energy Contracting'. I would like to see their trade licenses.

Interestingly, with the Ontario heat pump program, the government is having the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) qualify the contractors. That should go a long way towards keeping the fly-by-nighters out.

At the end of the day, rebates give certain sectors of the industry a temporary boost while hurting other areas. There’s a lot of cash out there right now for heat pumps and not much for high efficiency natural gas or oil – and that's a shame.


Banner year for CMPX show
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Ontario geothermal industry optimistic
In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character re-lives the same day over and over. Which might seem a little like what has been happening for years in the Ontario geothermal industry. But the movie might be coming to an end...Full Story
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WaterSense program gets reprieve
When Donald Trump was elected U.S. president he vowed to do away with what he considered nuisance environmental programs. One of those that came under fire was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense program, which is used across North America to rate the water efficiency of plumbing products...Full Story
Variable capacity
High-efficiency York Affinity variable capacity residential systems from Johnson Controls feature inverter-driven variable capacity technology, which dynamically adjusts capacity and airflow...more

More vertical distance
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Commercial control update
Controls on the Pennant line of fan-assisted, modular gas boilers and volume water heaters from Laars have been updated...more

Feed/backflow combo valve
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May 2 - 3rd, 2018

Moncton Coliseum, Moncton, N.B. Please visit www.meetshow.ca or call 506-658-0018.

Canadian Apprenticeship Forum National Apprenticeship Conference
June 10 - 12th, 2018

Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, Montreal. For more information, call 613-235-4004 or visit www.caf-fca.org.

Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating
June 17 - 19th, 2018

Annual Business Conference, Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Whistler, B.C. Please visit www.ciph.com or call 1-800-639-2474.

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