The Biden administration is leading a new effort that would make the country more energy efficient by the turn of the next decade.
Last week, the White House and the U.S. Climate Alliance – which is made up of 25 governors – pledged to increase the number of heat pumps that are being used in homes throughout the country four-fold by 2030 – from the 4.7 million that are currently being used all the way up to 20 million.
The reason for the move is that heat pumps don’t use much electricity, but they are able to cool and heat buildings. They are seen as a great way to impact climate change, since they often end up replacing furnaces that are powered by either gas or oil – both of which add a lot of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere.
The Biden administration says this is especially important since 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions across the world come from buildings.
The pledge to increase the usage of heat pumps comes from a collection of different state initiatives that will work toward reducing overall emissions to zero by the year 2050.
Pennsylvania along with seven states are looking to develop what they call a “clean heat” standard. It would essentially set a standard for how “non-polluting” that a heater would need to be, for instance.
After the announcement was made last week, some of the major heat pump manufacturers in the country – including Trane Technologies, Siemens, and Johnson Controls – all released a letter that said they’re in full support of the initiative.
The governors who are members of the U.S. Climate Alliance represent about 55% of the overall population in the country and 60% of the overall economy in the U.S.
Heat pumps are “almost a miraculous solution,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said, to three major problems that the U.S. is facing – “heating in the winter, cooling in the summer, and a reduction of carbon pollution.”
Heat pumps don’t need as much electricity as other types of furnaces because they take heat from underground and air outdoors and then transfer it inside. The other more traditional types of heaters heat up a coil, and that requires more electricity.
Heat pumps also perform just as well for cooling purposes, by pulling heat from the inside and dumping it either underground or outside.
Brown University professor of ecology Stephen Porder explained:
“Even on a winter’s day, heat pumps can take heat from outside, move it inside, and use less energy than if you were heating your house with a furnace. A furnace makes heat by burning something, (but) moving heat is more efficient than making it.”
Order ditched the oil furnace he used to have at his Rhode Island home and installed heat pumps in his house back in 2014. He explained the effects:
“My house is more comfortable. My energy bills are about half what they were before. And my house’s greenhouse gas emissions, even counting the electricity to run the heat pumps, have dropped by 75%. Plus, I now have AC, which I didn’t have before.”