Analysis of Heat Pumps’ Popularity Growth

Heat Pumps have been around in the USA and Canada for over 50 years so why has their popularity grown so much in the last 10 years?   Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Vermont, Maine and New York all seem to be hot spots in North America for heat pump installations.   Perhaps it is the combination of a perfect climate for a heat pump combined with higher than average energy cost?  Or perhaps it that installers and contractors feel confident that a heat pump in Nova Scotia will work better than any other type of heating option?    When a recent heat pump customer in Maine was asked about why he purchased a cold weather heat pump his answer was because my neighbor purchased one of your heat pumps last year.  So perhaps it is the “Jones” effect that people are buying cold weather heat pumps in North Eastern USA more than anywhere else simply because their neighbors are buying them and it has reached a critical mass?

Both ways the fact remains that Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Vermont, Main and New York State all have seen an explosion in cold weather heat pumps nearly tripling in the last 10 years. This is not to say the rest of the county such as California and Canadian provinces such as BC and Ontario are not also seeing similar heat pump growth. Worldwide the growth of air to water heat pumps has surpassed all other types of hydronic heat pumps including geothermal heat pumps, yet in North America a hydronic air to water heat pump is relatively unheard of? Why such a difference? One of the reasons is that North America is very slow to adopt hydronic heating as a superior heating source versus traditional forced air. Another is that European building standards are simply higher than North American and as such more focus and investment is put into heating and cooling system such as heat pumps in Europe?

What about cost? Cold weather inverter heat pumps have dropped substantially in cost worldwide as their production number rise. Economies of scale always play an important role in the adoption of newer technology. As more and more compressor manufacture add Enhance Vapor Injection (EVI) and DC inverters to their product line ups the competiveness drives down cost. It used to be that the only EVI manufacture was Mitsubishi, now almost every manufacture has a competing cold weather compressor. The cost of an average cold weather heat pump installation in Nova Scotia using radiant floor heating is about $10,000 USD this is less than ½ the cost of a similar install 10 years ago and performance of the heat pumps have nearly doubled in the same time frame making the ROI that much more attractive.

Could grants and government funding play a role in the growth of air to water heat pumps in areas such as New York, Nova Scotia and Maine? Let’s take a look at the government grants of heat pumps in these regions.

Heat Pump Grants in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia has one of the strongest heat pump programs with rebates upto $2500 for the installation of a centralized heat pump using a hydronic air handler. The rebate is applicable to all homes regardless of the heating typ. Click here for more information on Nova Scotia Air Source Heat Pump Program

Heat Pump Grants in New York

New York State has allocated $10.95 Million for Air Source Heat pumps including both single family homes as well as multifamily buildings. The rebate is limited to $500 per installation. This program is sponsored by the Clean Energy Fund and is on first come basis. Click here for more information on the air source heat pump program in NY

Heat Pump Grants in Maine

Under the Efficiency Maine Home Energy Saving program home owners installing an air source heat pump are eligible for $500 plus $250 for a second zone for up to $750. This program is only for ductless heat pumps so users need to install hydronic fan coils to take advantage of cold weather heat pump in Maine. Click here for more information on the air source heat pump program in Maine

Air Source Heat Pump Grants in BC

BC has an air source heat pump rebate available for residential FortisBC or municipal electricity customers. This includes a rebate of $1200 for central air source heat pumps such as those using a hydronic air handler or $800 for mini-ductless heat pumps using zoned fan coils. There is also a 10 year loan rebate program available for air source heat pumps. Click here for more information on the air source heat pump program in BC

Air Source Heat Pump Grants in New Brunswick

New Brunswick has a verities of heat pump programs available under the NB Power Energy Smart program. This program rewards home owners based on the number of upgrades that are done. Cold Climate Heat Pumps that are centrally ducted can receive upto $1750 in rebates through this program and furnace heat pump add on is eligible for up to $1200. Click here for more information on the air source heat pump program in NB

Air Source Heat Pump Grants in Ontario

Ontario has recently launched a Save on Energy program that includes cold climate heat pump on the saving list. Get up to $4000 in heat pump rebates through this program. This is only available to customers with electricity as the primary heating source. Click here for more information on the air source heat pump program in Ontario

Many other states such as Vermont, California, and Michigan and Ohio all have grants available for air to water heat pumps. One of the best sources for grants and funding can be found on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE). For a detailed list of programs listed State by State visit www.dsireusa.org.

As you can see only heat pumps in Nova Scotia and heat pumps in Ontario have any significant rebate program. Heat Pumps installed Maine only receive grants if they are done via ductless or hydronic fan coils and the rebate is capped at $750. Homeowners installing a heat pump in BC also are only rebated for ductless style heat pumps. Other popular heat pump regions like New Brunswick have programs of $1500 for fully ducted heat pumps.

Bottom line is the growth of cold weather heat pumps in North America is on a significant rise with or without grants and rebates. This is good news for heat pump manufactures as it is a signal of consumer acceptance and natural ROIs (without rebates) which is resulting in more and more home owners leaning towards air to water heat pumps for their energy saving solution.