Electric Water Heater Exchange Project

Posted 2013-08-30
Written by
Category Taking Action

Qualifying homeowners in Fort Providence, Fort Simpson, Tulita and Deline will have an opportunity to take part in an energy conservation project. This fiscal year, the Arctic Energy Alliance (AEA) received targeted funding to deliver a pilot project on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT).

The purpose of this project is to replace electric water heaters with fuel-fired water heaters in privately owned homes and reduce energy costs associated with residential (domestic) hot water heating. The communities targeted for this pilot project are thermal communities – communities where their electricity is generated by a local diesel power plant.

The rationale behind replacing electric water heaters with fuel-fired water heaters in thermal communities is based on the fact that it is much more efficient to heat water using fuel (i.e. diesel, gas or propane) than it is to use the fuel to generate electricity which is then used to heat water. Replacing electric water heaters with top quality, highly efficient, fuel-fired water heaters means the community will use less diesel to produce electricity.

There are other environmental and economic benefits to replacing electric water heaters with fuel-fired water heaters, such as a reduction in the amount of electricity used by homeowners and reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced at the local diesel-fired power plant.

Logistics (road / winter road access) and potential homeowner savings were among the criteria used to identify, six (6) NWT communities as priority communities for this pilot project. The governing body of each of these communities was invited to submit a letter of interest and confirm their willingness to participate in this pilot project by a community government resolution.

Based on economies of scale and the shipping logistics, the following communities were selected:

Community # fuel Fired Units Expected Completion
Fort Providence 5 September 2013
Fort Simpson 30 October 2013
Tulita 10 January / February 2013
Deline 10 February 2013

Standards and Safety

Code and safety requirements must be met for all these installations. AEA advertised a Request for Proposal (RFP) in June 2013, seeking professional engineering services to define the standard details for the units based on the Code and Safety requirements. Purchase of units and installation by the contractors must meet these standards. The RFP also includes a requirement for onsite inspections of all the units after they have been installed by the contractor. Four firms replied to this RFP. The successful proponent and contract was awarded to Williams Engineering.

Installation Contractors

AEA supports northern businesses and wanted to make sure that any interested northern contractors had the opportunity to bid on the installation of these units. A Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) was sent to all the mechanical contractors listed in the NWT. Potential contractors were asked to indicate their community(ies) of interest, as well as provide proof of liability insurance. Seven NWT businesses responded to the RFEI.


Homeowners who participate in this project will need to have a home energy evaluation conducted by AEA. The home energy evaluation will provide information that is needed to determine if their home is suitable for a fuel-fired water heater. There is a cost of $150 + GST for the home energy evaluation service. The home energy evaluation will also provide information on the most effective upgrades the homeowner can do on their home to reduce their energy consumption and heating costs.

Community Employment (temporary)

AEA will hire a temporary part-time Community Liaison Worker (community resident) in each of the four selected communities to work with the project team to provide logistical support and ensure good communication throughout the course of the project. AEA is also looking for oil-burner mechanic apprentices or equivalent in each of the four communities to assist the contractor during the installs.

The AEA wishes to recognize and thank the GNWT Department of Environment and Natural Resources for their support in making this project happen.