Report confirms electric heat pumps are a smart investment


The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has released a report which finds that replacing oil and propane furnaces, boilers and water heaters with high-efficiency electric heat pumps can reduce total energy use and energy bills, as well as reduce emissions in many cases.

It further states that the energy and money saved by installing electric equipment instead of propane- or oil-powered equipment can often make up for the upfront cost in relatively short order.

The report entitled Energy Savings, Consumer Economics, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions from Replacing Oil and Propane Furnaces, Boilers, and Water Heaters with Air-Source Heat Pumps explores how to achieve the ambitious worldwide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% or more by 2050.

It suggests that consumers and businesses will increasingly need to use heat pumps powered by low- or no-carbon electricity for space and water heating.

The report illuminates consumer acceptance of heat pumps and describes some early programmes to promote them for space and water heating. The most successful programmes provide substantial upstream incentives (to wholesalers) or midstream incentives (to contractors) and include contractor training and certification so systems are properly installed.

Report findings summary

  • Research identifies important market niches that look attractive for heat pumps as replacements for many oil-fired and electric resistance systems and some propane-fired systems.
  • Policymakers and programme implementers in states with substantial use of oil, propane and electric resistance systems should consider offering programmes to promote heat pumps for these applications, building on initial successful programmes in the Northeast and Northwest. Such programmes should focus on heat pumps that are at least ENERGY STAR certified, with higher incentives for the highest-efficiency systems, particularly cold-climate heat pumps that can provide heat even at low temperatures.
  • Programmes and other development efforts should encourage the commercialisation of more cold-climate heat pumps, particularly ducted systems with enough heating capacity to serve a home in cold weather.
  • Continued development of gas-fired heat pumps should also be pursued; a key for this technology will be keeping costs at a level that will permit these systems to compete with advanced electric heat pumps, as well as high-efficiency natural gas, propane, and oil systems.

Click here to read the full report.