For immediate release: January 10, 2024
Competition Bureau of Canada Starts Investigation into Enbridge Gas for Misleading Advertising
Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat – The Competition Bureau of Canada has officially launched an investigation into Enbridge Gas’ marketing campaign targeting new gas customers. The complaint, filed by Environmental Defence, the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and a number of affected residents, calls out Enbridge for claiming that gas is the most cost effective way for Ontarians to heat their homes, when heat pumps are in fact the least expensive option. It also flags misleading language suggesting that gas is “clean energy” and “low carbon.”
“Enbridge’s dishonest marketing is duping people into installing new gas hook ups and spending thousands of dollars on new gas furnaces and other appliances, falsely claiming it’s cheaper than heating with electricity which is just not true,” said Keith Brooks, Programs Director at Environmental Defence. “It is good that the Competition Bureau has agreed to investigate Enbridge.”
These misrepresentations are causing real harm. Customers in gas expansion areas stand to lose thousands of dollars if they switch to gas instead of installing high-efficiency electric heat pumps (over the lifetime of the equipment). Gas expansion will also create far more carbon pollution, making it more difficult and expensive to reach federal climate targets.
“I am outraged by Enbridge’s campaign filled with misleading information about the cost and environmental impact of its polluting product. Its new pipeline in Selwyn Township will deliver harmful fossil gas to our residents who will be locked in to higher prices for decades,” said Guy Hanchet, a resident of Selwyn, Ontario.
The complaint was initially limited to marketing materials aimed at areas where Enbridge is expanding its natural gas pipeline network. It has since been expanded to include deceptive marketing aimed at all of its 3.8 million customers in Ontario claiming that natural gas is the most affordable option on the market, which is not true.
“I cannot believe Enbridge has been allowed to mislead people 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.
“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.”
“The health harms of having gas in the home are clear. The use of gas in the home contributes to the development of childhood asthma. The expansion of gas infrastructure also contributes to the climate crisis, which is the greatest health threat we face. Instead, we need to expand the use of clean electric heat pumps, which do not harm health” said Dr. Samantha Green, family physician and president-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
- For a long time, fossil gas was the cheapest way to heat homes and provide hot water. However, electric heat pumps are now the cheapest option.
- Annual energy costs are far 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). Getting off gas also saves the monthly “customer charge” levied by Enbridge for use of the gas system (e.g. saving a Torontonian $310 per year). Heat pumps also cool more efficiently than traditional air conditioners, resulting in electricity cost savings in the summer. And only heat pumps (not gas equipment) are eligible for up to $40,000 in interest-free federal green financing and up to $6,500 in rebates for eligible customers (or $10,000 for eligible customers switching from oil).
- Heat pumps systems now work very well in Ontario’s cold climate – even in places as cold as Thunder Bay. Although it is always best to make homes more efficient regardless of the heating system you use, heat pumps are appropriate even for old and leaky homes. In fact, customers with old and leaky homes will save even more from heat pumps than the average customer because their heating needs and costs are higher to begin with.
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.