Many cities and states are banning or restricting fossil fuel hookups in new buildings as part of a broader strategy to reduce carbon emissions from buildings. Electrification of buildings is a key climate strategy because space heating, cooling, and water heating comprise 46 percent of residential and commercial building emissions and more than 40 percent of the primary energy used. In addition, getting fossil fuels out of buildings has health and equity benefits.
Heat pumps could accelerate electrification. The story of why heat pump adoption is going so slowly reveals what a complex policy environment surrounds a simple technology.
Heat pumps take heat from outside and move it into your home in the winter and take heat from inside in hot weather and move it outside. Some systems use ducts like hot-air furnaces and some are ductless—you’ve probably seen these on a restaurant wall. Heat pumps offer considerable energy savings because the quantity of heat and cooling brought into your home is considerably greater than the quantity of electricity used to power the system. Households that go all-electric by installing heat pumps for space and water heating, adding rooftop solar, and using an electric car will save an average of $1,800 annually.