Nine states today signed an agreement to promote the sale of heat pumps. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) sets a target that heat pumps will account for 65% of sales of residential heating, cooling and water heating equipment by 2030. The goal is for heat pumps to account for 90 percent of the HVAC and water heating market by 2040.
Heat pumps are more energy-efficient alternatives to traditional heating And cooling systems. And because they are electric, they could be viable on renewable energy sources like wind and solar once more clean energy flows through the grids. The states joining the agreement are: California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island.
The MOU is not legally binding, so for now this may be more wishful thinking than a clear plan
The MOU is not legally binding, so for now this may be more wishful thinking than a clear plan. The states will have to develop their own policies or incentives to deploy all these heat pumps. But it shows how much hype there is around heat pumps in the fight against climate change. And with national climate policy at stake in the upcoming presidential elections, state-led efforts are becoming increasingly important.
“Even though it is not legally binding, it plants a flag and sets a strong common goal that states collectively move in this direction,” said Emily Levin, senior policy advisor at Northeast States for Coulated Air Use Management (NESCAUM). The nonprofit association of air quality agencies led the effort to adopt an MOU.
The plan also has some industry support from companies like Schneider Electric, Siemens, Ikea, eBay and two of the largest HVAC manufacturers, Trane and Carrier. Yesterday they signed a letter of support for the MOU.
“Climate change poses significant risks to our long-term economic success, impacts the health and livelihoods of our communities, and disrupts the value chains we rely on,” the letter said. “The state’s adoption of more robust building decarbonization policies and programs will help us achieve both corporate and state goals faster and more cost-effectively, all while reducing climate-related health and safety risks.”
Part of the MOU is to develop an “action plan” to “support the widespread electrification of residential buildings,” essentially creating zero-emission buildings. State and local governments have had to make an about-face in response to the fossil fuel industry’s fierce resistance to a ban on new gas hookups, prompting a first-in-the-nation plan in Berkeley, California, that would allow gas stoves in the dragged into the country’s culture wars, resulted in its death.
Buildings are a major source of pollution and are responsible for more than a third of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The burning of fossil fuels in buildings also produces more smog-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions than power plants in the US. Fossil fuel heating equipment in the nine states that signed the MOU produce more than 138,000 tons of NOx and 6,000 tons of particulate matter annually.
“Heat pumps and electrification of buildings really are the future for healthier homes and a thriving green economy.”
“Heat pumps and building electrification are truly the future for healthier homes and a thriving green economy,” said Serena McIlwain, Maryland Secretary of the Environment. The edge. “The fact that we have the support of the industry really makes a big difference… Heat pumps are really gaining momentum.”
This is not the only attempt to make heat pumps more attractive to developers. President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act in 2022 to boost domestic production of heat pumps and other clean energy technologies. Residential heat pumps surpassed gas furnace sales for the first time in 2022, accounting for 53 percent of sales. In 2023, New York City began rolling them out in public housing as part of a $263 million plan to get heat pumps to tenants, starting with low-income residents.
The MOU announced today similarly says states will “seek” to target at least 40 percent of new investments in efficiency and electrification upgrades for residential buildings to low-income households and disadvantaged communities.