Death approaches for the old-fashioned gas boiler – and its killer is the humble heat pump. They are already surpassing gas furnaces in the United States, And now, a coalition of states has signed an agreement to boost the transition from gas to electricity by making the switch as cheap and easy as possible for their residents.
Nine states have signed a memorandum of understanding that stipulates that heat pumps should account for at least 65% of residential heating, cooling and water heating shipments by 2030. (“Shipping” here means systems manufactured, an approximation of the number of systems manufactured). actually sold.) By 2040, these states (California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island) aim for 90% of these shipments to be heat pumps.
“This is a very strong signal from states that they are committed to accelerating this transition to zero-emission residential buildings,” says Emily Levin, senior policy advisor at the Northeast States for Cooperative Air Use Management (NESCAUM ), an association of aerial organizations. quality agencies, which facilitated the agreement. States will work together, for example, to seek federal funding, develop standards for heat pump deployment, and develop a comprehensive plan “with priority actions to support widespread electrification of residential buildings.”
Instead of burning planet-warming natural gas, a heat pump warms a building by transferring heat from the outside air to the interior space. Run it in the opposite direction and it can cool the interior of a building: a heat pump is both a heating appliance and an air conditioning unit. Since the system is electric, it can operate on a network increasingly powered by renewable energies such as wind and solar. Even though you have to run a heat pump with electricity from fossil fuel power plants, it is much more efficient than a furnace because it moves heat instead of creating it.
A heat pump can save the average American household more than $550 per year, according to an estimate. They have become so efficient that even when it freezes, they can still extract heat air to heat a house. You can even install a heat pump system that warms your water. “We really need consumers to move away from dirty heat to clean heat, and we really want to send the message that heat pumps really are the way to go,” says Serena McIlwain, environment secretary of the Maryland. “We have homeowners who are getting ready to replace their furnace, and if they don't know it, they won't replace it with a heat pump.
The coalition's announcement comes just months after the federal government doubled down on its own commitment to heat pumps, announcing $169 million in funding for the national production of the systems. This money comes from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which also provides an American household thousands of dollars in rebates or tax credits switch to a heat pump.
These states aim to further collaborate with these heat pump manufacturers by tracking overall sales and progress, thereby sending a signal to the industry to ramp up production to meet the resulting demand. They will also collaborate with each other on research and generally share information, working on the best strategies to achieve the transition from gas to electricity. Basically, they are pursuing a sort of standardization of policies and regulations aimed at building, purchasing and installing more heat pumps, which other states outside the coalition could eventually exploit.
“A consistent approach across states helps ease the market transition,” says Matt Casale, senior appliance standards manager at the Building Decarbonization Coalition, which works with Northeast states on coordinated management of the use of air. “There are all these manufacturers and all these subcontractors, all along the supply chain, trying to plan for the next few years. They want to know: what will it look like?
There is also the less talked about challenge of the green energy revolution: train enough technicians to actually install heat pumps. To this end, the memorandum calls for workforce development and entrepreneur training. “If we encourage heat pumps and more installations and we don't have enough electricians to do the work, we won't reach the goal, period,” McIlwain says. “We have to spend a lot of money, energy and resources to ensure we have the manpower available to do this. »
In addition to technicians working with the systems, the country needs many more electricians to retrofit homes to make them fully electric beyond heat pumps, with solar panels, induction cookers and home batteries . To help with this, last year, the White House announced the American Climate Corps trainingwhich aims to put more than 20,000 people to work in clean energy and global climate resilience.
With such interstate collaboration on heat pumps, the idea is to move the device from an obscure technology beloved by climate nerds to ubiquity, for the good of consumers and the planet. “We need to send unequivocal signals to the market that heat pumps and zero-emission homes are the future,” Casale says. “This agreement between so many states really sets the stage for that.”
This story was originally published on wired.com.