Commentary: Heat pumps are making news
This is a commentary from a reader that was submitted to the Opinion page. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
By Jeanne Johnson, Citizens for a Sustainable Future, Alexandria, MN
All over the United States cities and states are developing programs to encourage businesses and individuals to take advantage of heat pumps. Why? Heat pumps can reduce emissions and save money on both heating and cooling. Heat pumps can help utilities control demand during peak usage. Heat pumps offer great savings on energy, especially for manufacturing where they can deliver temperatures up to 160F.
What is a heat pump?
Heat pumps are not new. They’ve been around since the last century. So why has it taken so long for heat pumps to get some love? Is it because they’re ugly? They look much like your air conditioner. They operate like you’re A/C too, capturing and expelling heat from interiors in the summer and warming interiors during cold weather.
Engineers say home heat pumps could cut electricity use by as much as two-thirds compared with traditional heating systems. In the future with growing consumer demand for electricity — cars, devices and population growth — where will the electricity come from? We know wind and solar are a good part of the answer but the sun doesn’t always shine (this past December and now January) and the wind doesn’t always blow. The storage capacity required by intermittent wind and solar is still in development. Nuclear is promising but it will take a while to get past the outdated regulations. We have to find ways to restrain electricity demand. Heat pumps can reduce electricity use right now.
According to RMI.org, as of November, 2022 four states have set deployment targets of over 12 million new heat pumps by 2030. Over 15 states are encouraging heat pump use through building codes, financial incentive programs, especially for low income homes, and decarbonization programs for utilities.
Can you afford a heat pump for your home? While heat pumps save money, for most of us, the several thousand dollars up front will be a challenge! This is surely a good part of slow consumer acceptance. But, wait, there’s millions in federal and state subsidies and incentives like tax credits for homes, businesses and farms. These funds can come down through cities like Alexandria, which have the resources to apply for, administer and speed up local use.
Needless to say, progressive cities are gearing up to get these grants and some of the incentives are capped. There’s no time to waste. Tell your city officials it’s time to love heat pumps!
Note: For more information a good online source is <programsdsireusa.org/system> a comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies.