ih-ductless heatpump

The province is offering rebates on high efficiency, ductless, mini-split heat pumps. (NB Power)

NB Power is starting a new program on Thursday that is expected to help people save on electricity costs.

The utility is offering a $500 rebate on the purchase of a high-efficiency heat pump.

Homeowners who purchase a qualifying model through one of nearly 100 contractors participating in the program will get the point-of-sale discount.

The rebate will apply to ductless mini-split heat pumps.

Sarah Mudge of NB Power's energy efficiency services division says these models can be upwards of $1,000 more expensive than lower efficiency units.

"On average you're looking at $3,000 for an entry level versus $4,000 for the higher efficiency products, so we're looking to split the difference," said Mudge.

"For those homeowners thinking about the technology, or are already committed to buying a heat pump, [we're trying] to convince them to buy a better product that will result in more energy savings."

Suited to open concept homes

The higher efficiency units save up to 40 per cent more energy over the heating season compared to the entry level models, Mudge said.

They also work better in lower temperatures.

Many of the heat pumps on the market don't work when it's colder than –10 C or –15 C.

Homeowners then have to rely on other heating sources in the home, which doesn't help reduce the load on the grid, she said.

"The heat pumps [in this campaign] are going to stand the test of our crazy temperatures. Everyone has seen a day in the winter where it hits –20 C, especially the last two or three years we've had weird winters where temperatures have gone lower than normal," said Mudge.

"We wanted to make sure the heat pumps homeowners in New Brunswick are purchasing are going to make sense for them to use in our type of climate."

The ductless mini-split heat pumps work best for open concept homes.

It sometimes requires two or three units to heat an entire house.

"A heat pump isn't a whole home solution," Mudge said. "It augments your heating source, it doesn't replace it."

New Brunswickers purchase between 10,000-15,000 heat pumps each year, but less than one-third of them are high-efficiency models.

A list of participating contractors in the new program will be listed on NB Power's website on Thursday.