Heat pumps can keep a home cool and comfortable in the summer and heat a home without fossil fuels in the winter more efficiently than other heating and cooling options, according to a recent study by Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).
RMI modeled the performance of several cooling options for a Seattle home during a record three-day heat wave in June 2021. The study compared performance of an air-source heat pump, a typical AC unit, and a higher capacity AC unit.
The heat pump could maintain a comfortable and safe indoor air temperature during extreme heat, costing $228 less per year to operate than a dual fuel cooling and heating system (AC unit and gas furnace). CO2 emissions would be about 25% less for the home when it operates with the heat pump compared to a high-capacity AC system and furnace.
The economics and efficiency of heat pumps make the case for incentivizing them to not only meet the increased demand for AC, but as a strategy for reducing carbon emissions and meeting climate action goals, RMI says. “Once a homeowner installs their first central AC unit, it’s a missed opportunity to get polluting fossil fuel or inefficient electric resistance heating out of the home for at least 15 years,” RMI says.