Heat pumps may be causing recent spikes in utility bills, according to the customer-care director at B.C. Hydro.
“I don’t know the technical side of it, but I know we have seen issues where people have called electricians out to investigate some of the internal componentry of their heat pumps, or some of the working pieces,” Jim Nicholson told the Straight by phone. “And I think that we’ve had the odd occasion where people have had a problem with their heat pumps. It’s not the actual wiring…it’s something within the heat pump itself.”
Nicholson said anyone with a heat pump who’s concerned about a spike in utility bills should “get it inspected”.
Vancouver Island resident Maureen Loucks did exactly that after she began to see bill spikes at a restaurant she cofounded almost 30 years ago in Cedar, near Nanaimo. Loucks told the Straight last month that her ground-source pump works fine. Instead, she blames the spikes on a recently installed, wireless smart meter, which replaced the analogue meter at the Mahle House Restaurant last November.
“It can only be one thing,” Loucks told the Straight. “All other logical things have been checked out.”
According to Loucks, her most recent bimonthly bill was $1,084, and her bill for the period December 14, 2011, to February 13, 2012, was $1,192. But the bill before those two, for October 15 to December 13 of last year, was $532.
Nicholson disagreed with Loucks’s analysis, but said the utility has sent a field-service representative to conduct a breaker test at Mahle House, and has checked over the recent consumption history at the restaurant.
“That’s what we’re finding in a lot of cases,” Nicholson said. “It’s not the smart meter; it’s basically their consumption pattern in the past has been fairly consistent with what they’re seeing now. And in this particular case, we’re not exactly sure why [a problem exists].”
Nicholson also said he has a hunch the problem could be an “outlier” analogue meter that is not working properly, and that was not caught as part of the utility’s annual obligation under Measurement Canada guidelines to pull 40,000 regular meters and test them.