We recently needed to replace our HVAC or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. Our HVAC supplier shared that the trend was to replace gas powered furnaces with heat pumps. I had heard about heat pumps as a low carbon alternative to traditional gas furnaces. And this turned out to be a great excuse to do some research. Here’s what I learnt:
(1) What?: A heat pump is a two-way air conditioner. This 2 minute video was the best quick explainer I found.
(2) Why?: Heat pumps are newer/better technology that make it possible to heat homes with electricity. Most heat pump systems will still have a gas valve as it is most efficient to turn on the gas when temperatures within the home go <40 degrees F (4 degrees C). Once they go above this temperature, the electricity can take over.
And as our sources of electricity becomes cleaner/more renewable, heat pumps help reduce our reliance on natural gas.
(3) How is it going?: Heat pump adoption has begun taking off recently with the Nordics leading the charge – see image below. (By the way, what is it with Norway and electric vehciles + heat pumps?)
It is also fascinating to see the penetration of heat pumps in the Nordics given how cold the climate is. The current hypothesis for this penetration is a strategic focus from these governments to reduce their dependence on oil/natural gas.
At our end, we ended up making the switch. Our gas furnace had a few issues – so this feels like a double win at the moment. That aside, I’m excited for heat pump technology to become mainstream. Looking forward to seeing updates to this chart next year with more countries moving to the right.